How much does Facebook know about you?

Just how much do you tend to share on Facebook? Probably more than you think.

Facebook has recently been called onto the carpet by Canada (the country!) for violating their privacy laws. In particular, the Canadian Privacy Commissioner took issue with the social network’s often confusing privacy agreement, their retention of users’ personal data even after they’ve left the network and how third-party apps use members’ private info.

Facebook agreed to implement changes that would affect all users, but would get Canada off their backs. After the changes take place, FB will change their privacy policy to better explain to users how and why their info is used – and it will require apps to explain the same each time a user accesses them.

And it’s a good thing too. Recently, the ACLU has been trying to raise awareness about Facebook quizzes. Sure, they might seem harmless – after all, you’re just finding out what Simpsons character you are, right? Wrong. Actually these quizzes, in particular, can find out a ton of info about you  – like your political affiliations, sexual orientation, religious background, etc. – based on fairly innocuous questions (not to mention the info they are allowed to pull from your account when you activate them).

It’s great that Facebook will be forcing apps to explain what info will be taken and how it will be used – otherwise, where could private info about you end up? In the hands of your employer? The government? A debt collector? The possibilities are frightening to consider.

Even with these changes, Facebook will continue to expand the info it asks users to give up in efforts to expand their “real time search”, which allows you to search the entire network, including news feeds, status messages, groups and more. Just over the past few months, they’ve instituted changes that, depending on your privacy settings, can make your info available to anyone (not just those in your network like before). Even if you’ve got your privacy settings where you want the, take another look to see what’s changed. Need help? Here’s a guide for arranging your privacy settings.

Aside from Facebook’s policies and your privacy settings, you should always ask yourself  exactly what info are you sharing when you update your status or share a photo? Just think – when you share on Facebook or Twitter that you’re going on vacation for two weeks – who might find that interesting? A burglar of course! It wouldn’t bee too hard to figure out where you live (especially if you’re in the phone book), or even what house is yours (ever posted a photo online that shows your home?).

Now that I’ve got you all freaked out (I hope), get back to work.

  • http://5chw4r7z.com 5chw4r7z

    Good post, timely.
    My online banking accounts have all started asking in depth questions for security, and I’ve recently started trying to use Facebook more, those quizzes really sent up a red flag.
    I’m not as worried about the burglars, those tend to be random and opportunistic, but I guess anything could happen.

    • http://manjamedia.com Mandy

      Burglaries have happened – and honestly, I’ve never considered it to be a problem until I read about it. Scary stuff.