Facebook privacy worries
A recent security flaw on Facebook brings new worries regarding the safety of personal information on social websites. Kids and Media recommends that parents talk to their children about the potential dangers of social networking.
by Rune H. Rasmussen
On Wednesday 5th of May Facebook temporarily shut down their chat system after an embarrassing security glitch was discovered by technology blog TechCrunch.
The security flaw meant that users who were previewing their own privacy settings – a feature that enables users to see how their information is shown to other users – were given information from their friends' accounts. Any user was able to view the live chats of their friends, as well as their pending friend requests, until Facebook was alerted and took their chat system offline.
A Facebook statement said:
"For a limited period of time, a bug permitted some users' chat messages and pending friend requests to be made visible to their friends by manipulating the 'preview my profile' feature of Facebook privacy settings."
"When we received reports of the problem, our engineers promptly diagnosed it and temporarily disabled the chat function. We also pushed out a fix to take care of the visible friend requests which is now complete.”
Uncertainty about privacy
Although Facebook quickly repaired the security hole, the flaw has created a feeling among many users that it is hard to trust the service to protect their personal information. The fact that the site's privacy features, which are intended to protect a user, could be used to expose personal information, does not make matters better.
“There is considerable uncertainty about privacy on Facebook, and this security flaw is the most recent of many examples” says Oystein Samnoen, Director of Kids and Media. “Facebook has a 13 year age limit, and Kids and Media recommends that younger children choose other social networking services that are more age appropriate.”
Talk to your children
Kids and Media advise parents to talk to their children about social networking services and online chat conversations.
“Agree on which sites to use and have a conversation about what friends they have, what they publish, photo management and what is good online behaviour,” Samnoen recommends.
He believes that a few simple measures can be taken to reduce the risk of personal information and pictures being publicly available:
“Children and young people who have a Facebook profile must ensure that their privacy settings are properly set, making their personal information available to friends only. In addition, they ought to make sure that their profile cannot be found through search engines like Google. This reduces the risk of being contacted by strangers.”
Samnoen also encourages young people to carefully consider who they add as friends and what information and pictures they publish.
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New York Times
Facebook Glitch Brings New Privacy Worries
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