More Facebook privacy woes: rogue marketers can data-mine your info

More on privacy problems posed by Facebook's recent changes: Wired reports that sneaky marketers could "take a list of 1,000 e-mail addresses, either legally or illegally collected -- and upload those through a dummy account -- which then lets the user see all the profiles created using those addresses." Using a scraping tool, the marketer could then turn that list into a rich set of marketing profiles, with "names, pictures, ages, locations, interests, photos, wall posts, affiliations and names of your friends."


  1. Their dummy account could see friends-only lockdown accounts, even if those accounts don’t friend them back? Or are we just talking about accounts that aren’t using privacy settings (which is, sadly, most).

  2. I’ve heard Facebook will lock out accounts that add too many friends within a particular amount of time. I wonder how long you’d have to stretch out 1000 adds to stay under the radar? And would it even be worth it?

  3. I got so tired of dancing around privacy concerns that I finally just quit facebook a few weeks ago. Much consternation saved.

  4. Honestly…if the 21st Century. Almost all information about a person can be tracked, harvested, and collected. The only way to guarantee that certain things remain 100% private is to not use ANY electronic means of recording them or otherwise speaking about them. If you don’t want it known, keep it off the grid. If you do ANYthing on the ‘net, always assume that it can and mostly likely *will* be accessed at some time by others.

    Privacy as we know it is a thing of the past: get used to it or stay off the ‘net.

  5. I’m not sure how much of this is new. You’ve been able to search for people by e-mail address on Facebook for quite some time and much of this information would have been accessible though such a search before the resent round or two of security changes on FB.

    1. Very true, the mail finder had been there before. But the recent introduction of “Publically Available Information” (the stuff you can’t set to friends-only anymore like name, profile pic, city, fan pages) makes this a slightly worse problem now than before. Maybe also the changes to who can find you, though I honestly can’t remember if you could disable the “let people find me through my mail” thing before (right now, you apparently can’t).

      1. Chibi got it right with the “Publically Available Information”. That is the crux of why more personal information is being put out there than before. I think it was the original EFF analysis that suggested their main reason for this was as an effort to compete with the sheer volume of searchable content being generated now by Twitter.

        I was offended by Facebook’s irresponsible attitude towards this privacy farce. I don’t want to commit facebook suicide because I find FB quite useful for killing a few minutes when bored and to keep in contact with friends in distant lands, but I don’t want FB to profit from my content, SO… I say just make your information as useless to them as possible by:

        *Don’t use your real name. The people you want to contant will still know who you are and it creates some hilarious real-world consequences (spoiler alert: Believe it or not, my name is not actually teapot!).

        *Never put your real relationship status (why would you want to provide a handy link to more information about your life?). Your real friends should know this anyway.

        *Set all your profile information to nonsensical crap. I live in Bolivia. My political views are “Possibly controversial”.

        *Join groups which bear no relation to your real interests. Don’t use any of their stupid apps, except the ones you find really useful (which for me is none).

        Most importantly: for anyone reading this who has not manually gone to FB privacy settings to change them – DO SO. The splash screen they made you click through about privacy settings is a total joke and if you do not set your privacy settings manually, your information is most likely already being indexed by search engines.

        Hi Facebook team: This is what you get when you treat your users’ information without respect. Go fuck yourselves.

  6. I just deleted my account about a week ago. Privacy concerns aside, I don’t see much reason to have facebook. I’ll speak to my friends in person, on the phone, or by email/IM.

  7. I signed up for a FB account under my real name so no one else would get it, then stuffed it full of fake info and set all privacy settings to MYOB. Index that, ***ches.

  8. I deleted my account a few weeks ago.

    Zen and nirvana ensued.

    I was nervous about missing out. But then I realized that I wasn’t missing out on anything. I still hang out with the same people and do the same things. The only thing I’m missing out on is reading about what other people have been doing. Big deal; I’ve lived the majority of my life that way. After giving Facebook a good chance for more than a year, I just found it didn’t add anything to my life but “noise.”

    The axe just came when they changed their privacy settings. Before I could completely block my profile from appearing in search results. When that changed, I got several emails from friends and family I didn’t add and had to painfully explain my reasons. That people were demanding my life to be public was the last straw. I have the right to choose and have no reason to explain myself.

    So here we are… Facebook. It’s useless and they have yet to monetize it in a way that isn’t directly offensive. On the outside I’m left wondering what all the hub-bub is really about.

  9. “I got so tired of dancing around privacy concerns that I finally just quit facebook a few weeks ago. Much consternation saved.”

    How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Brother: I was concerned about privacy until I realized most of my friends and acquaintences just thoughtlessly let Facebook scan their e-mail accounts. Facebook already had a ton of information about me before I even signed up. Privacy is dead.

    1. Sigh. You’re probably right, and privacy probably is dead. Nonetheless, I worry less now that I’m off facebook. I’m probably not actually any “safer,” whatever that means. But I’ve always been a bit of a worrier, and now I worry less.

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