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On Social Networks, You Are Who You Know 171

Posted by kdawson
from the spy-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends dept.
santosh maharshi writes "On social networks like Facebook, even if you have kept your profile very private, people can just look at your friends list and infer lots of vital information about you. Most of the social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn allow people to see your picture and your friends list as part of the open access for visitors (the article says that only 5% of Facebook users have bothered to hide their friends list). In a study titled You Are Who You Know: Inferring User Profiles in Online Social Networks (PDF), conducted by Alan Mislove of Northeastern University and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, an algorithm was tested that can accurately infer the personal attributes of Facebook users simply by looking at their friend lists. 'At Rice [University], the algorithm accurately predicted the correct dormitory, graduation year, and area of study for the many of the students. In fact, among these undergraduates, researchers found that “with as little as 20 percent of the users providing attributes we can often infer the attributes for the remaining users with over 80 percent accuracy."'"
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On Social Networks, You Are Who You Know

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  • with common tastes. News at 11.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573)

      I think the point of this is that you shouldn't be showing public searchers your friend lists under any circumstances--especially Facebook.

      Although for me most of the people on Facebook that I am "friends" with are people I knew in college. That doesn't necessarily mean we shared like interests, lived together or even were close. They added me and I wasn't so revolted by their existence that I said, "meh," and approved it.

      As far as Twitter goes...most of the people that I follow on there are trimmed frequen

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BrokenHalo (565198)
        I think the point of this is that you shouldn't be showing public searchers your friend lists under any circumstances--especially Facebook.

        I'd say it would be better to simply avoid Facebook, Twitter et cetera altogether. No matter how careful you are with your privacy settings (assuming Facebook can be trusted), unless you are meticulous about not posting anything that you would not say ANYWHERE else, sooner or later it's likely that you will run into some embarassment or another.

        I have several friend
      • by DavidTC (10147)

        Likewise, I've added every high school person I've run across. Why not? It's like a ongoing class reunion. 'Hey, that total screwup apparently has a good job and a nice family. And this person is...living in China for the past decade? Oh, look, that guy likes that TV show I like. Those two people got married, I called that a decade and a half ago. Heh, that hot girl is now teaching high school, and looks just as good. I know what all the boys in that class are thinking about.' (Those are all actual examples

    • by WinterSolstice (223271) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:39AM (#31452144)

      Guess I'm nobody, since I have no facebook account LOL

      But yeah, people shouldn't be surprised that publicly documenting every facet of your life results in less privacy, for you, and for everyone you know.

      • by Rhaban (987410) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:45AM (#31452230)

        Guess I'm nobody, since I have no facebook account LOL

        You are nobody, not because you don't have a facebook account but because you just ended a sentence with an all-caps 'lol'.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          LOL

          He's probably on MySpace instead.

        • by AndrewNeo (979708)

          Even though LOL is (supposed to be) an acronym, every time I read it in uppercase I see it as an acronym (laugh out loud), instead of the word (lawl). Then I recall my friend thinking it was "Lots of Laughs" (what?) and I want to hurt somebody.

          • I see the acronym every time. Hearing "lawl" or seeing it referred to as a word with that pronounciation turns me into the Incredible Hulk.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by fbjon (692006)
          A lot of people use it when they should use *smirk*, *g*, or :) instead. It's a disease.
          • by eln (21727)
            It's sad that the Internet has devolved to the point where an emoticon is considered the less annoying alternative for ending a sentence.
        • by raddan (519638) * on Friday March 12, 2010 @01:28PM (#31454288)
          Why, they should end their sentences with lowercase lols, like you?

          My wife thought for the longest time that "LOL" meant "lots of love". I asked her one day why she signed an email "LOL, your wife". I mean, I know I'm lame but "LOL, your wife"?!!!
          • Re:You have friends (Score:4, Informative)

            by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday March 12, 2010 @01:53PM (#31454608)

            My wife thought for the longest time that "LOL" meant "lots of love".

            It does. Historically used in *actual* letters. Google results are a-plenty, and even mentioned in the first paragraph here LOL [wikipedia.org]:

            Other unrelated expansions include the now mostly historical "lots of luck" or "lots of love" used in letter-writing.

            It's amazing how easily people forget that things existed before the Internet...

            • by Gilmoure (18428)

              The world started on May 25, 1977. All else before that is just clever marketing backdrop to contrast how cool Star Wars is.

              • by Rhaban (987410)

                I personally don't believe in anything I can't find proof of in google's cache. The world is little more than 10 years old.

            • by raddan (519638) *
              Awesome. Thanks for the link. She'll be very pleased to hear this!
        • Yes, and in a community of socially incompetent geeks, emotions are frowned upon and a big taboo. :P

          Get over yourself. Pure text is a horribly bad way of communication. It leaves out more than half the brain and more than half the information usually transmitted. It’s prone to misunderstandings all over the place. It should be avoided for all social contacts, and preferably only used for education of topics for the half of the brain that is for logic & co.

          Emoticons and things like “LOL

      • But yeah, people shouldn't be surprised that publicly documenting every facet of your life results in less privacy, for you, and for everyone you know.

        That isn't the surprise. The surprise is that even if you go out of your way to not publicly document some things (such as high school), this information can be found out through your friends list.

        • That's not a surprise, or shouldn't be.

          There is an old saying "you don't just trust a person, you trust everyone they trust". The idea is that if you have a friend who is a publicly exposed amateur photographer who posts everything and writes detailed exposes on their life - you just might be in it.

          If you know more than a couple of these people, they can tell a lot about you just by your association.

          Hang out with 30 white kids who went to B dorm in 2005? Well, the chances are you're a white kid who went to

      • You're not nobody (Score:2, Interesting)

        by killmenow (184444)
        You went go college and studied computer science, achieving at least an Associates Degree. You usually wear decent clothing (slacks, button-shirt, etc.) not jeans and tee shirts.

        You are a sysadmin and use BSD, GNU/Linux, AIX, IRIX and SunOS/Solaris but GNU/Linux exclusively on your personal PC (but think Macs are okay and are quite capable at using them as well), think Windows OSes barely qualify for the "OS" label, know what a Vax is and even know your way around VMS, and are a first rate perl-monger.
        • A couple hundred people just got chills reading that post.

      • Well, you're nobody on "social networks like Facebook" if you don't have an account. Fair enough?
    • by Lije Baley (88936)

      No, I don't, you presumptuous clod!

  • OK, and? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by russotto (537200) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:39AM (#31452142) Journal

    The things they found out aren't things most people have any reason to keep secret. OK, if you see that most of my Facebook friends went to Cowpie High or Mediocre State University, and you'll realize that I, too, probably went to Cowpie High and Mediocre State. So what? Mediocre State is on my (sometimes publicly available) resume, and it's not like its any secret that I went to Cowpie High either. (and yes, the school's actual nickname among the students was that)

    Much more interesting would be if they could figure things which people are trying to keep private. Where they buried the bodies of their "missing" parents, if they're gay but in the closet (I think there already was an article about that over a year ago, though), membership in the Secret Order of Inquisitors and Torturers (friending Dick Cheney is the giveaway here), etc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by GreatAntibob (1549139)

      Way to Go, slashdot readers! Completely overgeneralizing a research article!

      The point is that it doesn't even have to be "most" of your Facebook friends. You can infer a surprising amount of information based on a relatively small sampling of people. This is not as obvious as it sounds. The proper extension is that this type of research indicates it's possible to infer other information (like shopping, political, geographic, demographic, etc) from information reflected by your friends. If it really is

      • Way to Go, slashdot readers! Completely overgeneralizing a research article!

        If you actually bother to read the article, the grandparent pretty much got it right. The information the study located is information people (mostly) aren't particularly trying to hide. (And if you read the study, you'll also note they made no effort to determine or confirm if the data is accurate.)

        The point is that it doesn't even have to be "most" of your Facebook friends. You can infer a surprising amount of informatio

    • by mantis2009 (1557343) on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:16AM (#31452636)
      For anyone who isn't clear on why Facebook and Twitter are so valuable, this study is yet another example of how much rich information is embedded in social network data. It's easy to imagine applications for pulling information out of social network data. Who would be interested in such data? Advertisers, ex-girlfriends, social researchers, police detectives, anti-terrorism, intelligence agencies... the list goes on and on. Pretty much any project with interests in the social world would benefit from social networking data. It's valuable. Why you would give away your social networking data to Facebook, Twitter, or Google for free?
      • by fish waffle (179067) on Friday March 12, 2010 @12:45PM (#31453746)

        It's valuable. Why you would give away your social networking data to Facebook, Twitter, or Google for free?

        Actually you don't give it for free---you in fact pay them for the privilege of giving them that info (indirectly, via ads). Presumably you get something in return though.

        I do agree with you on the value; personal information is a commodity, and as a commodity that is inherently mine, if you want it you should have to get my consent.

        A software-licensing scheme seems like the perfect solution for personal information: you only lease my information; that doesn't give you the right to resell it, you may only use it as I explicitly direct, and I can withdraw your permissions at any time for any reason.

        • A licensing scheme might very well work to make social networking services more transparent and accountable to their users, I agree. But until there is more general awareness of the extent to which social networking data is valuable, I think people will underestimate how unfair the bargain is when you sign up for services like Facebook. It's true that Facebook users get a valuable service in exchange for handing over their personal information. The relationship asymmetrically advantages Facebook, though,
      • by Sax Maniac (88550)
        To compete with the people who are doing it for profit. I have some small amount of control over my own information. If I "opt out", then plenty of other companies will do it for me.
      • None of my ex-girl friends want to know anything or have anything to do with me. At least, that's what they say each time, after I track them down again.

  • by ShaggyZet (74769) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:39AM (#31452156) Homepage

    While the study proves a fairly obvious hypothesis, what your social network could say about you could go a lot deeper than that. It's not much of a leap to determine religion, politics, sexual orientation or various other things that people don't fully consider, or could even be used to violate equal opportunity housing or hiring laws. I think there are a lot of great things about social networking, and facebook in particular, but the how it's changing cultural views and expectations of privacy is shocking and fast, and I don't think we'll have perspective on whats happening for years to come.

    • Yeah, Facebook has begun to seriously scare me. I think it has been successful only because it started so slowly; we are frogs being boiled.

      Remember how it started? Initially it was literally a web-based "facebook" -- like those printed things you used to get in college -- which (1) was restricted to students at a few Ivy-League schools, and (2) only shared information between people in the same "network" (which at the time meant "university"). Being on Facebook didn't mean broadcasting your profile to

    • by mdf356 (774923)

      It's not much of a leap to determine religion, politics, sexual orientation or various other things that people don't fully consider

      I'm not sure I believe this (I haven't read TFA yet). While I think you could infer where I grew up and went to High School from my friends list, I think you'd have a very hard time with my political orientation, sexual orientation, or religion, since my Facebook friends (like my real-life friends) come from a diverse set of backgrounds.

      It's not surprising people in college mostly know other people in college from about the same year as them and possibly the same major. Someone in their 30s presumably has

  • but college students are some of the most strongly connected people around. They are more likely to be friends with their neighbors (who all share their age and occupation), Facebook adoption rates in their social circle are very high, and they have a very strong overlap between work, living arrangements and social life.

    This isn't generally worrisome for the rest of us, who aren't Facebook friends with everyone on our street or office building.

  • No wonder so many slashdotters post as anonymous cowards!
    • by raddan (519638) *
      Oh, I just thought that guy had chronic keyboard diarrhea. You mean it's more than one guy?!! It's contagious!
  • A potential employeur might use this algorithm to predict my graduation year and area of study instead of just looking at the resume I sent him?

    Scary.

    • by TheMidget (512188)

      A potential employeur might use this algorithm to predict my graduation year and area of study instead of just looking at the resume I sent him?

      He might figure other, less public, details about you.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:42AM (#31452200)
    I'm sure that marketing companies have known this for years. The give-away is when they get it wrong. I get lots of adverts for cheap calls to India and for services to "send money home". I'm not Indian but most of my friends are.
  • This is why I'm highly selective about my friends.
  • Not so shocking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by calibre-not-output (1736770) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:44AM (#31452218) Homepage
    This only works assuming the public use of Facebook is ubiquitous. If only half of your friends are on the network, or if only half of them allow information about them to be publicly visible, the accuracy of the predictions will suffer greatly. This in turn means that the algorithm will more accurately predict the traits of people who have the trait of not caring about their online privacy. It's a calculation based on an assumption. In other words, bollocks.
  • by owlnation (858981)
    This is yet another "correlation does not mean causation" result from a university. Which does lead me to correlate that universities are a possible cause of a lot of bad/worthless research these days. This study certainly seems to fall into that category. God only knows how people get funding for this kind of study.

    I have Facebook "friends" that I barely know, people I've not seen in decades, people I once worked with. I'd be astonished if you can draw ANY accurate conclusions about me from any of those
  • Stereotypes work.
  • by jackpot777 (1159971) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:50AM (#31452288)
    If you want to see just how much of 'you' (and anyone else in the US) there is out there for all to see, go to Spokeo [spokeo.com] and type in your name. It got my marital status wrong and had a few gaps regarding interests. But my address was on the button and it provided the view of my house from Google StreetView. Just in case I win the lottery and someone wants to kidnap me...
    • by houghi (78078)

      So they looked up data in a phonebook and linked the outcome to the google maps wiki. Wow.
      Strangely the things that are not genrally known it had wrong.

      A better thing would be to just use google to find stuff and people. I used the site above for someone who I know in the states and it found nothing. Google gave me much more detail.

      • My phone number is unlisted. Has been all my life. I'm not in the phonebook, and I never have been. I'll let that sink in.
        • by khasim (1285)

          Go to www.zabasearch.com and type in your name.

          It will probably turn up a few addresses. Now all that's left is to geo-locate your IP address and dump the addresses close to that location onto Google Maps.

          Even if you have an unlisted phone number your address is easy to find.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Apparently I'm a High School graduate in my late 70s living in a million dollar house in southern california.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      What if your name is Steve Johnson? Good luck finding youself in the sea of Johnsons.

    • Given the errors in my 'basic profile', the most useful info about me on that page is the profile of my neighborhood. But that's always been available from my zip code, something I freely give to anyone who asks (including checkout clerks).

    • by Zenaku (821866)

      I just tried it. It was . . . interesting.

      There were 8 results for my first and last name. Two of them were "me."

      One "me" was at the address I lived prior to this one. It had my age and zodiac sign (seriously Spokeo?) correct, but had no information on my occupation, education, or hobbies, had my marital status wrong, and claimed that the estimated value of my home was greater than one million dollars. (Wow. I bought and sold that house for arround 250K. And Spokeo itself noted that the neighborhood w

      • It had my age and zodiac sign (seriously Spokeo?) correct

        The combination of approximate age, astrological zodiac, and Chinese zodiac are a convenient way of giving your exact date of birth within 2 weeks. It just presents it in a much less "alarming" fashion.

        It also gives identity thieves enough data to bluff their way through a date-of-birth authentication over the phone or in person.

        Assuming you were born on the 21st of the month:
        Guesses of {1,2} are explained as single-digit omission errors
        Guesses of {11

        • Except that when somebody asks for my birthdate "for authentication" what they get is wildly different from the real date and also different from the one given to anyone else for the same purpose (on the rare occasions that I give out a birthdate at all).

    • Wow, that's kind of strange. I came up one result that's basically right in my neighborhood but doesn't seem to be me. I came up with another result that, as far as I can tell, is an amalgam of me and my father.

      No real apparent record of me, though. I'm happy about that.

    • by eht (8912)

      My name is fairly uncommon, only 63 hits(66 hits if you use my abbreviated name), none of which are me at my current or any previous addresses.

    • by klenwell (960296)

      go to Spokeo [spokeo.com] and type in your name

      And by searching for my name on their site, I'm sure I'm only giving them a little more information with which to ferret me out.

    • Thank you, you just made my day. The information they have on me is so completely wrong (other than getting my family members right) that I couldn't help but giggling. I guess there is an advantage to constantly checking random boxes when filling out personal surveys. There's so much data associated with my name that the aggregators are completely confounded.

      PS. Contrary to spokeo, I'm not a 60 year old woman who plays football, drives a truck, collects dolls and enjoys birdwatching. Although seeing my old

    • by Sporkinum (655143)

      I must be doing all right with keeping a low profile, as I was not listed, even trying a few variations on my name.

    • > ...go to Spokeo and type in your name.

      Result:
      "A team of untrained hedgehogs searched high and low for the page you were looking for, but alas, they could not find it."

    • by barzok (26681)

      It found me twice - once in an apartment I lived in 5 years ago, for only one year. It said I lived there 5 years. The other address is my current address, it's got my length of residence right, but has my house valued at $1M. It's worth about 12% of that. It lists my wife on the current entry, but not the old apartment, despite the fact that we were married when we lived in the apartment. My wife's data is very wrong as well, differing from my own info in areas that should be common - home value (still inf

      • It found me twice - once in an apartment I lived in 5 years ago, for only one year. It said I lived there 5 years. The other address is my current address, it's got my length of residence right, but has my house valued at $1M. It's worth about 12% of that. It lists my wife on the current entry, but not the old apartment, despite the fact that we were married when we lived in the apartment. My wife's data is very wrong as well, differing from my own info in areas that should be common - home value (still inflated, but not as much) & length of residence.

        What you all seem to be failing to grasp here is that, it seems to be improving over time. There are several comments stating that "I was there but it wasn't like so and so". And now they have the current data. And the more other venues start coming online and putting their freely accessible data out there, the more accurate it will become over time. There is one aggregator that collects this info, another that collects that one, and in a couple of years or more people like these will superaggreate them and

  • by shambler.com (1187127) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:51AM (#31452298)
    What happens in Vegas, stays on facebook
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      That's when you face punch the ass who tagged you, since you can find out who they are and where they live from facebook via the algorithm in TFA.

  • So true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:55AM (#31452344)

    I friended an old colleague of mine who has a prominent sales position at a tech firm, and was curious why he hid his friend list. So I browsed his news and watched his wall for ahwile and soon realized he just didn't want people to know he was gay. It wasn't blatent, but you could tell that a large number of people leaving messages were loudly gay, talking about gay iissues like gay marriage, etc..

    Of course I never knew this whan I actually worked with him, and we litterally spent man weeks together at customer sites - although I afterwards realized that he was very good looking and never seemed to have a current girl friend, only talked about ex's. It all fit really.

    So the article struck a chord with me.

    • by Oxygen99 (634999)
      "we litterally spent man weeks together at customer sites"

      Yeah, so, ummm, I have this "old colleague of mine"...
  • it seems like a giant ego bonfire, it seems like a massive waste of time to tweak minor pointless trivia about your social life. just the very thought of it fills me with tedium and exhaustion. it seems to reinforce the worst aspects of people's personalities: their vanity, their shallowness, and their mediocrity. i mean who really fucking cares, including yourself, about this running narrative about the pointless banalities of your life?

    and now i find the someone, in fact, does care: the demons of id theft and invasion of privacy and spam marketing... as invited into your life, by your own vanity

    do the best thing you can ever do for yourself: lose facebook. don't go to another social networking site, just simply drop completely off the radar of this fad whose only value is to reinforce and amplify the worst parts of your personality, and to turn you into fodder to be harvested by search spiders and marketing algorithms

    you've offered your life up to harvesting by a depersonalizing machine. grow some character by becoming real, and lose the ridiculous mask called facebook. if the lunch meat called spam became the catchword for depersonalized email message, i'd like to offer that social networking be known as soylent green: it's people! social networking sites like facebook are everyday people, ground up, processed and extruded into depersonalized marketing diarrhea: soylent green

    why would you do that to yourself? teenagers: you are exempt, its a useful tool for social exploration. anyone older than 24: you're pathetic

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by plague3106 (71849)

      For something you don't use, your sure do have strong opinions about it. Your giant ego also leads you to believe that everyone uses it exactly the same way, because that's what you hear on the news and you can't possibly fathum how others might use the site.

      But please, let me help you tone down your own ego; no one cares that you're not on facebook either. You're not important enough that WE need to know that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ddillman (267710)

      it seems like a giant ego bonfire, it seems like a massive waste of time to tweak minor pointless trivia about your social life. just the very thought of it fills me with tedium and exhaustion. it seems to reinforce the worst aspects of people's personalities: their vanity, their shallowness, and their mediocrity. i mean who really fucking cares, including yourself, about this running narrative about the pointless banalities of your life?

      yada yada yada...

      If you're so bothered by it, why are you wasting so much time ranting about it here? Simply ignore and move on... Oh, I see, it is we, the ones with the giant egos that need to listen to YOUR viewpoint. Hypocrite.

      I'll grant you a lot of the crap on social networking sites is indeed ego fanning, but I'll also counter with the fact that it makes keeping in touch with distant family and friends almost trivially easy, which can strengthen relationship bonds, and that's generally a good t

      • by shawb (16347)
        And, more importantly, it can help you keep in touch with friends in the real world. EG: a buddy I haven't seen in real life in a couple years is throwing a housewarming party. I wouldn't know about this if it weren't for computerized social networking. I might go with a few other people who used to hang out in that era. Or, someone post that they are going to a fundraising event... they don't have to annoy each one of their friends, people simply decide to go based on the fact that 1)it seems to be a w
    • by Jeian (409916)

      Disagree. I'm friends on Facebook with people I know from my childhood (like the family who lived down the street from me for 10 years) and can keep up with what's happening with them. I'm fairly certain that not everybody on my friend-list would remember to e-mail me about major events in their life, but if they post it on Facebook, there it is.

      "i mean who really fucking cares, including yourself, about this running narrative about the pointless banalities of your life?"

      My friends do. Maybe they don't care

    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:36AM (#31452866) Journal

      Henry David Thoreau said it best 150 years ago:

      Just so hollow and ineffectual, for the most part, is our ordinary conversation. Surface meets surface. When our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper, or been told by his neighbor; and, for the most part, the only difference between us and our fellow is that he has seen the newspaper, or been out to tea, and we have not. In proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post-office. You may depend on it, that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters, proud of his extensive correspondence, has not heard from himself this long while.

      Life Without Principle, 1863

    • it seems like a massive waste of time to...

      • watch mindless TV
      • care about professional sports
      • argue about obscure geek topics online
      • read romance novels
      • play poker
      • talk about the weather
      • sit at the bar drinking with friends
      • build plastic models
      • obsess about manga
      • ...

      If people enjoy using Facebook, and their enjoyment of Facebook with all its banalities doesn't affect me, why do I care what they do? I have my own ways of wasting time, they have theirs.

      • > why do I care what they do?

        I don't, but they get rather tedious about it. Particularly silly is the notion that FaceSpacers are "technology experts" while those of us who find "social networking" a bore are "luddites".

  • ... and I will tell you who you are. Nothing new here please move along.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Not necessarily. I'm not on facebook, but my meatspace friends run the gamut from poor to rich, in all sizes, shapes, colors, and political views. Nerds and construction workers, bureaucrats (I live in the state capital), waitresses. In fact, since I have far more female friends than male friends (I like women), someone might think I was female.

      • In fact, since I have far more female friends than male friends (I like women), someone might think I was female.

        Or gay..

  • A lot of replies to this seem to be dismissing it as irrelevant. Yes, social networks are not private. But determining aspects of your identity that you yourself do not choose to post can have serious implications. Project Gaydar [boston.com] at MIT showed that it was possible to determine sexual orientation via social networks. In many parts of the world, including the US, this matters. As might information about what preexisting medical conditions you might have...

  • When I was in middle school during the mid-90's (I turn 26 next month), I started getting into chat rooms (as many people did around that time.) My parents taught me from an early age to be very aware of what information I put out there, and it has served me quite well. I rarely talk about work, and if I do it is done in a very generic, non-identifiable way. Most of my friends on social networking sites are from K-12, and I use it primarily to keep in contact with them.

  • This might work pretty well for a small, relatively tight group like students at a particular university. I bet it gets worse as we get out into the real world and develop friends with wider interests from different backgrounds.
  • Man, I hate it when I see the 20-80 rule, because now I know it's bullshit.
  • Who is laughing now? When I cut off all contacts with the real world and spent all my time playing on line games in the cyberworld, they were all laughing and told me to get a life. Now, all their information is available for all on line retailers and the data bases that connect cyber names with real world names. My cyber name is the only one that resolves to NULL in their real world names data base and crashes their systems!

    I assure you, me becoming the savior of the world by crashing the databases of th

  • by dwheeler (321049) on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:16AM (#31452634) Homepage Journal

    Facebook has now changed their policy to eliminate privacy, in particular, friend lists are always public [facebook.com]. At one time you could make this private, as noted in this report. I made my own friend list private when I first joined it, but Facebook now ignores my configuration. If you can make friend lists private, please let know how... it sure isn't easy, and Facebook's current documentation says that it cannot be made private.

    Making public the private data you gave a company, without your consent, should be illegal.... but it appears that Facebook can do it with impunity. I've mostly stopped using Facebook because Facebook seems to be becoming actively hostile to privacy of any kind.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Facebook has now changed their policy to eliminate privacy, in particular, friend lists are always public. At one time you could make this private, as noted in this report. I made my own friend list private when I first joined it, but Facebook now ignores my configuration. If you can make friend lists private, please let know how... it sure isn't easy, and Facebook's current documentation says that it cannot be made private.

      Making public the private data you gave a company, without your consent, should be i

      • by klui (457783)
        Apparently you can set what your friends can share about you but given that Facebook changed their policy of making friends' lists public, who knows how long some of the other policies will last.
        • > Apparently you can set what your friends can share about you...

          That will only work if your friends are too stupid to copy and paste.

          Oh. Wait. We're talking about Facebook.

  • I friended most of my high school classmates, whom are all morons. I'm not. I just didn't want to be rude.

  • The last time I was looking for a job, I searched my name on Google and came up with a lot of hits that had nothing to do with me. Some were good, some were bad. In all, there were at least four distinct people on the first six pages of hits, with my name.

    For example, there was one person who is a police officer in another state that was on the first page. If someone were to mistake me for that person, I wouldn't mind. However, there is no way someone would mistake me for him, due to age, occupation, an

  • I don't have a facespacester account, but I've been thinking that I probably need to sign up sooner or later. So, in order to mitigate the privacy threats, I'm looking at creating domain-specific accounts. One for my high-school friends, another for 'professional' use, another for family, another for hookups, etc.

    Anyone know if there is a plugin for firefox (or any other browser actually) that facilitates this approach? I think I saw an app a few days ago that was designed to amalgamate different account

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