4.02.2009

Facebook users unwittingly revealing personal information thanks to way privacy settings work

Cambridge study says social networking site's public profiles could be used to access private details.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/apr/02/facebook-profiles-personal-information

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Millions of Facebook users could be unwittingly giving away personal information because of the way in which the social networking website's privacy settings work, researchers said this week.

In a study presented to a conference in Nuremberg, a team from the University of Cambridge's computer laboratory showed how Facebook public profiles could be used to find out personal information despite appearing to contain only a few details.

The researchers used a computer programme to sift through tens of thousands of public profiles – visible to internet search engines such as Google – in order to build detailed maps of people's relationships.

In the paper, called Eight Friends Are Enough, the Cambridge team pointed out that it was possible to reconstruct somebody's friends list – which Facebook calls the "social graph" – in a way that could allow marketers, governments and even criminals to understand the private relationships between different people.

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