Every day, 55 million Facebook status updates are made. From where a user is at any given time, to intimate musings about their personal life, to photos of children and family members, Facebook status updates contain a wealth of personal information. And it’s not just friends and vague acquaintances that are interested in these updated. Hackers are increasingly becoming interested in personal information, since personal identity packages – especially if they contain bank account details or medical information – sell for a small fortune on the Dark Web.
Identity theft is something nobody wants to experience in their lifetime, so the question every user should be asking themselves if this: how secure is your Facebook profile?
Anyone can view your profile
Most people are aware of the dangers of sharing personal information on social media. To help protect themselves, many users select the highest Facebook privacy settings, opting to only let accepted friends view their profile and status updates.
In October of this year, however, Facebook changed the game. While updating their internal search function, Facebook also quietly made every user’s profile public.
Whilst it is still possible to hide your actual posts from the public eye, it is no longer possible to hide your entire profile. Now, when someone searches your name on Facebook, your profile will appear – even if you have opted for the highest privacy settings. What’s more, when someone clicks on your now-visible profile, they can see a wealth of information, even if they can’t see your actual status updates. Pages you’ve likes, groups you’ve joined, and friends you’ve made are all visible to total strangers.
Messenger conversations aren’t so private
In 2015, Facebook’s Messenger app – which allows users to send private messages to one another, similar to WhatsApp – was the company’s fastest-growing platform, with 900 million monthly users. Recently, however, it has emerged that Facebook’s private messaging app might not be as private as we first thought.
Back in June, Belgium-based security researcher, Inti De Ceukelaire, revealed that links shared in Messenger chats are findable by Facebook’s crawler tool. The crawler tool apparently gives each link a numerical value, and developers can request any object in Facebook by its number – including these shared links.
Whilst developers are not able to see the actual messages or details about a specific chat, it is still disconcerting to know that the things you share in confidence with your friends might not be so confidential after all.
Facebook is literally stalking you
Facebook was one of the first companies to really take advantage of the abundance of location data produced by modern smartphones, by allowing users to ‘check in’ at various locations across the globe. Now the social media giant is taking things to the net level, by using location data to suggest friends to users.
Indeed, if you have location data enabled on your smartphone, Facebook may suggest friends who have shared GPS spots with you – regardless of whether or not you actually posted on Facebook from that place. That means that strangers on the tubes, friends of friends of friends at bars, or people who frequent the same coffee shop as you could all appear as suggested friends on Facebook.
So next time you log onto Facebook, or consider sharing something totally personal on social media, think about who could be watching.