I See You Bought a Dress Online

Posted on February 16, 2008. Filed under: Information Security, Information Technology, Web Sites |

Facebook Privacy Settings (1) Facebook Privacy Settings (2)

Click each image above to see the detailed Facebook privacy settings discussed below.

Vara, Vauhini. “It’s Hard to Hide From Your ‘Friends.'” Wall Street Journal. 30 Jan. 2008: D1.

Wall Street Journal web site

Vauhini Vara’s article discusses three new loss-of-privacy situations in which you may unknowingly be a participant.

1. Facebook now lets your online friends view your purchases from participating online vendors’ sites, whether or not you are aware of it.

2. Google, Inc. news service sends lists of articles you’ve read to your friends and acquaintances, whether or not you know it.

3. Sears Holdings Corp. used to let anyone in the world know about anyone else’s Sears purchases with a simple, open online search. So many people complained about this “feature” that it was removed from the site.

The only situation that applied to me was Facebook. As soon as I finished Vauhini Vara’s article, YOU KNOW I scurried off to my computer to see what my Facebook settings were. Sure enough, my settings were wide open — the default behavior. However, no one knew about my purchases yet and, thanks to this article, no one will because I changed them. I never, ever noticed the “External Websites” privacy setting in Facebook until I read through this article.

All of these social networking “features” were implemented without users’ knowledge.

I really recommend that you read this article and doublecheck YOUR settings.

Read Vauhini Vara’s full article.


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2 Responses to “I See You Bought a Dress Online”

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Fortunately for me, I don’t use Facebook. But around last Christmas a postcard advertisement from MicroCenter offering a free 2 Gb flash drive lured me into their new Rockville store. On impulse I bought a $1.50 lanyard for the flash drive. When the cashier processed my free USB drive purchase, she got pulled my home address by scanning the postcard, swiped my credit card to pay for the lanyard, and used both these things to build what was obviously a customer information profile. Then a week or so ago I returned to MicroCenter to make a purchase and I paid with the same credit card. Up came my home address and phone number on the nice large LCD display. Someone with good eyes can read that address and commit it to memory. I’m not sure I like that idea.

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