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Who Views Your Facebook Profile #3: Cyber Thieves, Criminals And Facebook Cyberbully


Part III of Data collection methods - Who looks at my facebook data?

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One would hope that you are on the honest side of the criminal divide. Make no mistake, though, who looks at your Facebook is no less important for law-abiding netizens. You could easily be subjected to any cyberbully with your personal data exposed. As an example, recently I was subject to a scam where phishing emails were sent to my personal email account supposedly from family members – had I clicked on them, my computer would have been infected by a trojan. Both my and my family members' nicknames were used as displayed on Facebook and there is little doubt it was from our Facebook profiles that the information was taken. It was this on top of the Consumer Reports information that led me to take much greater care of who looks at my Facebook profile. My Facebook privacy settings are now at a much higher level than they were. Perhaps I'll never have perfect privacy on the account, but I still want better privacy; and you should too.

And the worrisome examples go on: an innocent teenager from Australia posted a photo on Facebook which showed her and her grandmother counting withdrawn savings. Within a day her house had been broken into by armed robbers. Indeed numerous reported burglaries are suspected to have occurred because the victims had revealed their holiday plans on Facebook. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Facebook has become instrumental to modern day crime. And yet none of this is published as advice or warning in the Facebook privacy policy. Why is Facebook not working harder to prevent its users suffering attacks as a result of their posting on the site?

Then there are cases of cyberbullying on Facebook. Though often only borderline in terms of lawbreaking, Facebook cyberbullying has seen examples reported which range from despicable to outright tragic. Consumer reports mentions a lawyer, Kevin Jolly, who was a victim of cyberbullying on Facebook. His attacker, bearing a grudge against the lawyer, downloaded Jolly's profile photos and set up a replica Facebook account using his genuine Facebook identity data. The attacker then published pornographic material and other defaming images and messages on the replica account. Only after near four weeks of appeals to Facebook's administrators did Jolly succeed in having the account closed – long after the damage had been done. Other more extreme cases of cyberbullying on Facebook even result in the victims tragically committing suicide.

Eden Wormer (14), Amanda Cumming (15), Micaela Strothers (17), Kenneth James Weishuhn, Jr (14) are just some of the teenage suicides in the last few months that were blamed at least in part on Facebook cyber bullying.

In the case of cyber bulling, the question of who views my Facebook profile can often easily be answered with: Why, your Friends, of course. When you have a thousand people as registered friends, it's inevitable that some of this number are going to be much less friendly than you would like. It is nothing more than vanity that leads us to allow so many Facebook friends access to our profile when Consumer Reports showed that 20 million US Facebook users have declared they do not trust their Facebook friends where personal security is concerned.

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Written by: 
Robin Welles; expats team, internet security team