John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Convenient Directory of Least-Private Facebook Members Now Available

Facebook users may have control over how their information is shared, but they don’t always get to decide where and in what form that information is shared unless they proactively choose to. Case in point: The torrent of account details for more than 100 million Facebook users that surfaced today.

Harvested from publicly available information held in Facebook’s open access directory, the torrent is essentially a list of users with a cavalier attitude towards privacy and a reminder of just how easily the personal information we post online can be gathered for whatever purpose–large-scale data mining, for instance–unless we explicitly take steps to prevent that from happening.

If you didn’t make some thoughtful opt-out decisions in your Facebook profile, chances are you unwittingly opted in to this torrent. And that’s troubling because there are 100 million such people.

“Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life,” the site promises. But not always just the ones you’ve invited. As the torrent’s creator notes, “Once I have the name and URL of a user, I can view, by default, their picture, friends, information about them, and some other details. If the user has set their privacy higher, at the very least I can view their name and picture. So, if any searchable user has friends that are non-searchable, those friends just opted into being searched, like it or not! Oops :).”

Oops, indeed.