Facebook Concerns: Danger Still Lurks for Social Networking

Published on: May 11, 2011

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(Agoura Hills, C.A.) Facebook has become an important way for many people to communicate in their daily lives. It is equally known for its transmission of malware and cyber-bullies. There have also been reports of increased exposure to identity theft in connection with Facebook use. Many social networking users are young (7.5+ million of them), and therefore may lack the knowledge and skills needed to handle serious situations that arise online. Some of these youngsters may also be in violation of regulations that place age limits on the use of online resources. Facebook has a minimum age requirement of 13.

Facebook itself has made efforts to enforce this age requirement. By pointing a browser at the privacy policy document viewable on Facebook, parents can delete preteen accounts by using the provided link to report an underage child. Facebook accounts can also be linked to parental email accounts to help with supervision if that were required. However, many parents do not monitor their children’s Internet usage at all.

Ideally, every user would set their own individual privacy controls, though many do not take the time to do so. When users connect their Facebook accounts to other websites, they’re essentially allowing the other site to collect data unless they have already blocked access. However, many people may not genuinely care about privacy. There is a question as to whether or not these users would even bother to exercise discretion even if armed with the knowledge of how to do so.

The demographics that many people assume about people online are often incorrect. Teenagers who utilize social networking resources are more concerned with their privacy than adults are, according to Facebook chief privacy officer Chris Kelly. Many people have misinterpreted the scope of social networks. Teenagers who use Facebook, for instance, treat the website like any public space. They utilize discretion and often respect other people’s privacy. However, adults have often misinterpreted these social cues and may not fully grasp how teenagers might wish to informally protect their privacy. A 2008 study from Computer Associates confirms that many teens are at least somewhat concerned with online privacy.

Some say that a sort of informal code has arisen to pick up where privacy settings end. Teenagers personally respect the privacy of others according to some, and will often refuse to infringe on other’s solitude. This isn’t necessarily so with adults that may miss these social clues.

Malware, however, might even be a more nefarious threat for people who use Facebook. After all, while people can be interacted with, computer programs automatically work their wickedness. Usually apps require that users allow them to run before they will function. However, there have been reports that a few malicious apps have been able to run just by clicking on a link. Usually these faked posts appear to be at least somewhat legitimate.

Another similar major threat comes in the form of what some people call “clickjacking.” This form of attack takes place when users are presented with a post that claims to have been liked by their friends. These are generally about a popular topic. Oftentimes, the topics are taken from recent news or pop culture stories.

Usually, these attacks do not have destructive payloads. Rather, many of them are just intent on illicitly propagating the number of likes. However, there are those that lead users to pages to steal personal information. Users need to be on guard for posts that provide links with phrases instructing people to click on a link to view a video. Some of these will then request Facebook login data, claiming that they require it to view the video. The account is then stolen, and the media player app that installed itself onto the client computer will often remain as a form of malware even if the account itself can be recovered later.

It is important to pay close attention to what you engage with on Facebook or other social networking sites. What looks to be legitimate could very easily be faked, and often is. A little discretion with what you can click on can mean the difference between having a safe account or a hijacked one.


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