Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fake Facebook friends a danger, says Bianca Bosker

I have to agree.
Read Bianca Bosker's article here

Making friends is fun, rewarding and valuable. Collecting Facebook versions to establish your popularity and win in popular games can be dangerous.

Whatever your reasoning, be aware some of the people in your Facebook friend list might not be who they say they are. 

I know many people who are very active gamers with Mafia Wars, Farmville, etc. While those specific game applications are safe, moving up and succeeding in games requires you have a lot of friends in your corner. Thousands. That is not safe! When you friend someone, you allow them to see more personal details in your profile, unless you carefully configure the many layers and categories in Facebook's privacy settings.

Yes, it's true, you can custom restrict friends from seeing certain things. But when you are collecting multiple new friends on a daily basis, configuring the various levels of your Facebook account will become a part-time job.

People I know who are gaming fans on Facebook have created fake Facebook accounts so they can play in unrestricted peace, because the fake profile does not disclose real birthday and other info contained within - you aren't giving away any private details.  If you are a big gamer, such a move would require you to lose the game ranking that you have already earned under your real-name account.

But if you don't want to do that, you can set your settings to allow only people you name to see your posts, contact information, place of business, school, photos, etc. Use that feature!  You could "Hide" or exclude game friends, but if you are adding new friends frequently this can become rather time consuming. It's better to put your trusted names in the "Make This Visible" section, for once you add your real family and friends, your trust list is not likely to change that much. Anyone who you do not personally know should not be on this list !

For me, the attraction of Facebook was never games, or finding out what guitarist I am, who is looking at my profile (THERE IS NO SUCH APPLICATION!!!) sending hearts, flowers, fortune cookies to my friends and relatives. I don't knock those that do, it's just never been my thing. But everyone should remember, you can restrict and cherry pick privacy settings on friends. You CANNOT do that with applications.

The creators of applications can, if they are computer savvy, see everything in your profile. If that is okay with you, then go right ahead and load up on apps.  Most applications of the cutsey, sentimental, fortune-telling, question or poll surveys- sort are dangerous. They lure you in with something cute, adorable or well-meaning, but you really have no idea, nor does Facebook by the way, who created the application to begin with and what their motive is. They could be people or groups of people with malevolent  intent, who want to steal personal information, capture your email, cell-phone, DOB or  sell your data to spammers. Anything  you have decided to share on your profile is fair game and has a price on it. Data sells.

Networking is a fabulous thing. Just look at Egypt. But sharing everything about yourself to everyone, unencumbered, is downright dangerous. And in a strange way, I sort of disagree with Bianca Bosker. Sort of.  There is a place for fake identities, tweaked ever so slightly, not to defraud, but so you can enjoy Facebook's many benefits without malicious,prying eyes watching your every move.

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