• thewhitehatter

Facebook: The King of Kings When It Comes to Social Networks

When it comes to social networks, the leader is without a doubt Facebook. Facebook was the brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard University student who developed the social network in 2004. It has been estimated that as of July 1st 2011, there were over 750 million users on Facebook. Although the minimum age to join Facebook is 13, there is no real policing of this minimum age requirement, and we have seen children with Facebook pages as young as 8 years of age. Facebook is not only being used by teens, but also by adults, businesses, and governments to communicate with others from around the world.

So what is everyone doing on Facebook?

With over 30 billion pieces of content being added every month, often parents will ask us, what do our teens and other people do on Facebook? A short list includes:

·Chat/communicate/hang out with friends

·Share photos (almost a million new photos are added every day)

·Share and post video

·Sharing personal news

·Identity exploration

·Discovering and exploring interests

·Learning social norms and social literacy that is known as “informational learning”

·Learning the technical skills of the digital age

·Playing games

·Sending birthday wishes

·Planning meetings

·Planning parties

·Doing homework

·Connecting with lost friends

·Supporting causes

·Political and civic activism

Facebook has created a live digital echo system that is constantly changing and updating itself, which is being driven by its estimated 750 million users.

What about safety in Facebook? Just like the real world, social networks/services like Facebook cannot provide a 100% guarantee that you will always be safe. When it comes to safety in a social network, it is not just the responsibility of the site, but also the users themselves.

Given the popularity of Facebook, there are many misconceptions, truths, and untruths about the security of Facebook, its applications, and the frequent scams that seem to plague the world’s largest social network. To help shed some light of Facebook’s privacy controls and security measures, a website known as has published an article that answers many of the questions people have about how secure and safe Facebook really is, and I would encourage you to visit the site and read the full article. For the purposes of this book however, I will briefly highlight some of the important information in this article:

Myth: All Facebook applications are created and managed by Facebook.

Reality: Facebook applications are not developed or maintained by Facebook, they are all developed, maintained and managed by third party vendors.

Myth: Facebook reviews all applications for security vulnerabilities, scams, or frauds.

Reality: In general it would be very difficult for Facebook to review the code for all applications that are installed given that it is estimated that people of Facebook install an estimated 20 million applications every day.

Myth: Facebook applications don’t have typical web security flaws.

Reality: Facebook applications can be developed insecurely just like any other web-based application.

Myth: Facebook is responsible for any information that you provide to Facebook or third-party vendor.

Reality: there is no guarantee that Facebook or third party vendor will not misuse of sell your information.

Myth: Facebook allows developers to do whatever they want with their applications and can collect your personal information.

Reality: Facebook has certain policies that developers can and can’t do with your information.

Myth: Facebook reviews all third-party companies that collect your personal information.

Reality: this one is still up for debate.

Myth: Facebook takes user privacy seriously

Reality: The more information you share the more valuable you are to Facebook. You should always take your privacy on Facebook seriously as they may not always have your best interest at heart.

Myth: Facebook has very little privacy controls.

Reality: This is false. Facebook has made great strides in increasing their privacy controls.

Myth: Facebook makes it easy for users to delete their accounts.

Reality: the process of deleting your Facebook account has gotten only slightly better over the years but still remains a confusing one. For those who are looking for an easy step by step process on how to do this please go to Good luck!

Myth: Facebook scams are mostly variations of the same over the years.

Reality: Yes they are and remember if something is too good to be true, it probably is.

Myth: I can’t get a virus or malware by using Facebook

Reality: Good luck!!!

Myth: Facebook scams are mostly variations of the same over the years.

Reality: Yes they are and remember if something is too good to be true, it probably is.

Myth: I can’t get a virus or malware by using Facebook.

Reality: yes you can all it takes is clicking on malicious link, installing a rogue application, or falling for one of the many scams that offer “free” stuff.

Myth: I can trust my friends on Facebook because they would never send me anything malicious.

Reality: False.

Myth: Facebook does not have a security team or a way to report security issues/spam/or scams.

Reality: False. Facebook does have a security team but given that there are over 500 million users on Facebook, good luck in connecting with anyone from the security team.

Here's a quote from Daniel Lyons, a Newsweek reporter, which I think is worth considering specific to Facebook:

“The most important thing to understand about Facebook is that you are not Facebook’s customer, you are its inventory. You are the product Facebook is selling. Facebook’s real customers are advertisers. You, as a Facebook member, are useful only because you can be packaged up and sold to advertisers. The more information Facebook can get from you, the more you are worth.”

This is why when it comes to social networking, no matter the vendor, you should always maintain a healthy skepticism. Remember, that users of social networks also bare some responsibility specific to safety and privacy concerns, given that vendors can only share the personal information that we put into our profiles and post on our walls.

Digital Food For Thought

Darren Laur

AKA #thewhitehatter