Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Huge Flaw in Facebook

I posted ages ago, when I first gave in and joined Facebook, that I hated it. Well, I had overcome my hatred for it, and it's okay now, and I actually even use it quite a bit, but I was very disturbed today to discover a serious flaw in Facebook. I'm writing this hoping that word will spread through google searches and everyone can know about this. Because I've been asking around and everyone else seems to be as shocked and appalled about this as I am, having had no idea...

The flaw? Networks.

You see, there are geographic networks that you can "join", and I never really even knew what the purpose was in them, other than to identify your location in the search results. If I'm searching for someone by name, and there are 20 people by that name, and their face isn't in their profile picture, I have to rely on the location which is only shown if they have joined their location's network to know which one is the person I'm really looking for.

So I joined the network for my location ages ago and never thought any more about it.

Today, after posting photos on Facebook, and setting the privacy levels for those photos so that only three selected friends could view them, I was horrified to discover that another friend, not on the specified list, was able to see them, as well. Fortunately, it was someone that I didn't mind being able to see them, but the point was, she wasn't on the accepted list, and if she could see them, that meant others could see them too.

I quickly pulled the album, then did some investigating to see just how this terrible mistake had occurred. And the answer? Networks.

Apparently, if you are in a network, everyone in your network can see things that I had always thought before were only viewable by your approved friend list. This particular person was able to see my private photos because she was in my network. I experimented. I searched for someone, clicked their profile in the search results, and was given the typical message that I could not see their profile unless I was their friend, and the clickable option to send a friend request to that person. I then joined the local network that person was part of, and tried again.

Guess what? I could now see their entire profile. Their pictures. Their videos. Their notes exchanged amongst friends. All of their information that they, like me, most likely thought was only viewable by people they had approved as their friends.

Major major flaw. So much for privacy!

So, although in the privacy options, there are apparently options to take away the ability of those in your networks to see certain things, the default setting even if you've selected "Friends Only" is that those in your networks see everything. Me? I'm taking no chances on having to set all these different options to exclude networked people. I'll just leave the network.

If you desire any level of privacy in your social networking, I highly advise you do the same.

Not happy with Facebook. Not happy at all.


A Dusty Frame said...

Wow! I didn't join networks just because I didn't want to.

I do know that if you look at someone's profile, and they have commented on someones photo that is not my friend, I can look at their photo albums from following the link on my friend's profile.

Prairie Rose said...

I've tested this one out just to make sure that what I understood to be the case really was, and this one's okay.

When you upload photos, you are asked if you want the photos to be visible to everyone, friends of friends, or friends only. If you choose friends only, and someone else comments on it, then THAT person's friends will not be notified of the comment or shown the picture.

So the photo albums you're able to click through and see were set to "everyone" or "friends of friends". That, at least, Facebook did okay with.