Facebook’s new security measure. About as useless as Radio for deaf people

Before I start, allow me to explain my current situation. I’m standing in the woolshed at Wedderburn drying out after attempting to cycle the southern half of the Otago Central Rail Trail and being rained out. Better me standing around in a warm shelter doing nothing until 4pm than stubbornly pushing on and catching hypothermia, so while I was just standing here out of the pouring rail I decided to check my email.

Now on Friday night I read about facebook’s new security features and attempted to enable them. I set it up so that if an unfarmilliar device logged onto my facebook account then I would get an email. I presumed that any unfarmilliar device would not be allowed on my facebook page without my say-so. What happened since then appears to be the opposite.

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Those two screengrabs are the emails I got sent after my wife had hopped on my facebook page last night from her netbook to play House of Travel’s new mixandmatcher competition. As far as I know facebook didn’t throw up a big stink when she logged on, it just let her play on through. If it had actually complained I would have received a text from my wife saying she couldn’t get in and needed my help.

Now I said I wasn’t concerned about what data of mine facebook has, and that still holds true, what does concern me is that facebook didn’t appear to stop someone else from getting into my account, as they claimed their new privacy feature was built to do. Once again, they have made their new features opt-out (wrapped in a layer of opt- in, I might add.) which will no doubt please the Diaspora* crowd. I guess I can still rely on security through obscurity and the fact that nobody is really that interested in me, but if someone out there wants to do You harm I don’t see facebook as being any more secure now than it was two days ago.

Now to go sample some of the local delights…

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Have issues with Facebook’s lack of privacy? here’s a solution you may not have thought of…

For the last few weeks I have been listening to the recent episodes to This Week in Tech and This Week in Google with the tiniest hint of disdain. Don’t misread me, I really enjoy the informative news and the banter the hosts have with eachother, but I am growing weary of hearing the same complaints about Facebook’s lack of privacy over and over, that we do not own our identity and that facebook will be unscrupulous with what we’ve given them, selling it to the highest bidder and letting them have their way with us, not to mention giving our friends, and possibly parents access to information we don’t ever want them to see, because we didn’t change our prvacy settings.

I have fine-tooth combed my facebook settings on more than one occasion, and I think I’ve reached a fair compromise on what and what not to allow, but I’d like to suggest a far simpler solution to privacy woes that, in my opinion everyone should try.
It will save a lot of trouble and stress from the people whose backs you are trying to sneak behind, keep you from getting declined at your next job interview, or fired from your current job. Your parents won’t comment on every single thing you do, nor will the other relatives you felt so obligated to add to your list of friends. Not only does this solution apply to facebook, but it applies all over the internet. It’s open source, the most open you can get, but it’s not hardware or software.

My solution? if you don’t want the world to know about it, don’t put it on facebook!

Why, in all honesty, is that such a ridiculous notion? It’s worked well enough for me that, despite my internet presence, nobody who cares (and several nobodies who don’t) really knows jack about me. Since I choose what information I want to reveal on facebook before it even gets typed into a text field I’m not actually that worried about what all the third-party applications and websites that access facebook’s data do with it. The information that they do have is only relevant to advertising campaigns I will inevitbly ignore and stuff the IRD, DIA, LTA, and my insurance company already have on file. They may not even have the right information. I didn’t use my real last name on facebook for years. I could have lied about my entire profile if I felt like it, I could even have staged my current profile picture! Maybe it’s because I’m introverted, and don’t really talk to anyone anyway, but I have no trouble keeping information out of facebook’s hands because I keep it from even getting to my own hands.

Why not use SMS for communication. New Zealanders love txting, we’ve been doing it by the thousands of messages since it became available. Every cellphone comes with it, and everybody’s got one. Please don’t say ‘not everyone has one, what about my grandma who’s too old to operate one?’ or ‘what about people in deepest darkest Africa?’ (where cellphone penetration is actually higher than landlines by an order of magnitude) Chances are that you, the one saying this, has a cellphone and has no right to be a smart-ass about it. The only other persons listening are the government, and they don’t care if you think so-and-so from your social studies class is a bitch, or who slept with who, or what you need to buy from the supermarket.

I guess this is just a rant, but I really don’t understand why common-sense is so dead these days. I know facebook is (to borrow the song lyrics) where everybody knows your name, I know it feels good to have heaps of friends, although I was happy enough when I hardly had any. I know that it feels like you miss a whole lifetime of stuff when you have to go without facebook for a day (a nod to anybody running a cellphone on XT :P) but if I have information I don’t want the world at large to know, I feel much safer for simply not telling anyone in the first place…

…except my wife, but that’s another story…