Friday, November 4, 2011

Leaking Personal Data Through Social Networks

Do you "friend" the friends of your friends on social networks? 

How do you decide whether to accept a "friend" request? Do you stick to those you actually know, or do you accept requests from friends of friends, even when you don't know them at all? How many Facebook friends of yours have you never met?

Earlier this week The Register reported on an interesting experiment in social network behavior

Researchers at University of British Columbia created 100 "Socialbots". These were Facebook profiles with fake names and photos. 5,000 randomly selected Facebook users were contacted by these socialbots and sent friend requests. About 20% of that 5000 accepted, and then their friends were contacted by the socialbots. About 60% of those users accepted. At that point, a very large number of users had friended fake accounts. More importantly, information that users had protected from public disclosure but made available to friends was exposed to the socialbots. In fact, during the course of this eight week experiment, 250 gigabytes of personal data was collected!

Every user must make their own decisions on data that they make available on social networks, who they "friend" and what applications have access to their data. How do you make those decisions?  Please leave a comment and let us know.


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