Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mary J. Blige Had It Right... Internet Privacy and Such As

When she sang, "No more drama in my life."

This whole FB defriending thing has completely exploded into a huge deal... over a stupid misunderstanding. I'm not going to go into detail about it, because life I've said I don't like to use my blog as my drama outlet. Plus, I've talked about it enough to my mom, friends, and R that I think I'm all talked out (never thought that would happen).

So anyway, on to happier things like rainbows and unicorns and candy mountains...

Hahaha, it's an old video, but it never fails to amuse me. I have to thank Miss N for introducing this to me so many months ago when she and I were nothing but young she-wolf pups.

So back in the vein of social networking and Facebook, I read this in a friend's status update today:

"FACEBOOKERS fb is at it again...violating your personal information: As of today, there is a new privacy setting called "Instant Personalization" that shares data with non-facebook websites and it is automatically set to "Allow." Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites and uncheck "Allow". Please copy & repost as I did, to spread the word"

I thought this might be one of those lame FB "urban legends" that spreads like wildfire but has no basis to back it up, so I checked it out. I stumbled upon this story Facebook's Instant Personalization Is the Real Privacy Hairball.

Well, so it's legit. I read up about it and from what I read - adding your preferences to sites like Pandora and Yelp doesn't seem like a HUGE invasion of privacy. That being said, I can see how it could snowball and turn into a new way for cyber predators to stalk their prey. What on earth is going on in this world?

Have you heard of the website It's a cyber stalker's dream. While it doesn't bring up any information that isn't already available to the public via the net (no, not that Sandra Bullock movie), it conveniently compiles all of the accounts associated with your email address or name/ home address into one database.

You can search for people by name and it will come up with all the results for people with that name and divide them by state. From there you can narrow it down, find the person's address, and often, the person's email address.

If you search for someone by email address (which you can conveniently find by searching for someone's name), it will produce a list of all of the accounts associated with the email address. It will show any public pictures from those accounts, or even cached photos from private profile before the profile was set to private.

How do I know? I searched for myself. I found my Myspace profile, which I set to private over a year ago, yet somehow the picture slideshows from my profile and most of my profile album pictures are available via spokeo's ability to scour the internet for cached files.

This seems highly problematic to me. As many of you may know, employers are now using Google, Facebook, Myspace and other search engines to check up on the goings on of potential employees.

Did you do a beer bong once back in college and someone photographed it? Well it could cost you that job, even if your  profile is private, apparently.

Even better, some (a lot) of the information is erroneous. When I searched for myself by name, the email address associated with it was my mother's. It said I was in my 60's. It provided my parent's address and even an estimate of the value of the home, estimated credit level, and estimated level of wealth.

None of it was correct. All because my mother helped me apply for student loans using her email address when I was 18.

You can "opt-out" and remove listings associated with your name, but it's considerably more difficult to remove entries for a specific email address. So someone searching you by name may not be able to find you in that way, but if they already know your email address they will have no problem.

After discovering this, I took the opportunity to start removing my own listing as well as R's, my parents, my siblings... until I found out that you can only remove up to 5 listings under the same email address. What kind of BS is that?

My only solution to this is to set very strict privacy settings for all of my profiles, allowing only close family and friends to view my pictures. I also untag any photos of me doing anything unbecoming of a lady... or an employee.

So, fellow bloggers and devoted readers, what are your thoughts about your Facebook privacy and internet privacy as a whole? Have things gone too far on their end, or are we just too lax about sharing personal information?

Clearly, this isn't the end. Where do you see the invasion of internet privacy going next?

I'd love to know your take on this. Comment away, por favor please.


In my world I ROCK said...

It's my night mare in one website. I hate how personal information isn't personal anymore and how easily people can access it.
This is scary. I am about to creat a fake identity and change all my accounts to that.

Sarah P said...

I'm twitching with paranoia.

I just spokeo'd myself. Nothing. Something under my maiden name, but it was way wrong on nearly everything.

Nashe^ said...

The search engine is defintely a powerful tool. But when it comes to employment and such, I think bosses shouldn't actually take employees questionable photos into account. At least not too seriously.

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