Users warned of following Facebook privacy recommendations

December 10, 2009 Sophos Press Release

IT security and data protection firm Sophos has warned Facebook users of the dangers of blindly following Facebook's new privacy settings.

Facebook has announced a dramatic change to the privacy options, encouraging its 350 million users to share more information with everybody on the internet. However, Sophos warns that some users may not be aware that Facebook's recommendations include third party search engines and external websites, and changes to privacy settings that they may have previously enabled to better protect themselves from identity thieves.

"These could be the most important clicks you ever make on Facebook," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "If you don't read carefully you could find that every post you make on Facebook, and your personal information, is visible to everyone in the world who has a computer rather than just your Facebook friends."

"Let's make this clear. If you make your information available to "everyone", it actually means "everyone, forever". Because even if you change your mind, it's too late - and although Facebook say they will remove it from your profile they will have no control about how it is used outside of Facebook," added Cluley.

"There's one very simple rule you should follow - if you don't want everyone in the world to read it, don't post it on the internet," continued Cluley. "If you dig around on Facebook you can find out what the privacy changes mean. The problem is that most people won't bother reading and simply follow Facebook's recommendations without understanding how a split-second decision could hit them hard in the future."

Facebook's changes to its privacy settings on Graham Cluley's blog.