Fake Facebook Profiles – Keep Your Guard Up

From this quarter’s 2600 magazine, an article excerpt from “Create Mass Hysteria on a College Campus Using Facebook” by alleyrat.

The two most crucial aspects of a fake profile are that it must be a woman (women won’t friend unknown males, but males will friend unknown women) and that it must have an inviting innocent picture. Generic photos were obtained that were not direct face shots, but rather had some distance to them. It’s easy to find stuff that fits the overall campus climate and apply them. Each account was also given some fake interests, political orientations, etc. and the wall and chat featured on Facebook were disabled.

Once a bunch of profiles were made, I imported a randomized .csv list of .edu emails into each. Facebook matched profiles for roughly 300 of the emails imported, and friend requests were blasted out en masse for each profile. Within 24 hours each account had 150-200 friends. UCSD is a relatively prestigious school, and I am baffled by how successful this technique was and how little people know about the workings of the internet and, in particular, spam (Internet license anyone?). Many people would send me a private message with “Do I know you?” I just ignored all of them.

– alleyrat, 2600 Magazine, Volume Twenty-Seven, Number Two, Page 18

Emphasis added.

Uninstall Facebook Applications Internationally Day (UFAID) September 1 2009

I am a fan of Facebook. I enjoy using it and it has brought me closer to a lot of awesome people. We are even approaching 1000 people on our Facebook Fan Page!

stopBut I can’t handle Facebook’s lack of respect for our privacy. The fact that it shows me “dating website” advertisements (I’m married and they KNOW this!?) even after I mark them “thumbs down” and “irrelevant” or sometimes even “offensive.” Yet they return.

In response to previous privacy concerns, Facebook launched a charm offensive for better Facebook Governance. As someone who studies PR, this was a smart thing to do. Start by listening and their blog in fact did request feedback. Great job! But wait! There’s more!

A few months go by and this poor chap finds a dating advertisement on his Facebook profile featuring a photo of HIS WIFE! Not cool. At all. Facebook’s response on the unauthorized use of the photos is:

In the past couple of days, a rumor has begun spreading that claims we have changed our policies for third-party advertisers and the use of your photos. These rumors are false, and we have made no such change in our advertising policies.

If you see a Wall post or receive a message with the following language or something similar, it is this false rumor:

FACEBOOK has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures WITHOUT your permission.

The advertisements that started these rumors were not from Facebook but placed within applications by third parties. Those ads violated our policies by misusing profile photos, and we already required the removal of those deceptive ads from third-party applications before this rumor began spreading.

I feel for them. But the answer seems weak – it wasn’t us. It was a third party. And we stopped the practice AFTER y’all complained about it. The weak link in the chain here is the facebook application provider. I’d like to see two things change to improve security and privacy on facebook.

  1. Facebook needs to be explicit about the “reputation” of a particular application provider or advertiser. Make this transparent. I LOVE the “report this” next to the advertisements, but as I mentioned above, for me they are ignoring my feedback. And why can’t I see EVERYONE’S feedback on an application or an advertisement? Would this type of transparency be a bad thing?
  2. We, the Facebook customers, need to uninstall as many applications as possible. We need to uninstall these unnecessary Facebook applications for our own safety until we can see more transparency. Just remove them. Only add back the necessary ones. So many people remove the box from their profile and THINK they have removed the application. They have not!

We propose September 1st 2009 as Uninstall Facebook Applications Internationally Day (UFAID).

Not all applications mind you, just the ones you don’t trust or recognize.

To uninstall your Facebook Applications follow these steps:

  1. Login to Facebook
  2. Click on your “Profile” link at the top of the page.
  3. Scroll down to the “Applications” link on the lower left. Click it.
  4. Click “Edit Apps” link which should take you to a page like this: http://www.facebook.com/editapps.php
  5. IMPORTANT Change “Show” from “Recently Used” to “Authorized”!
  6. Click the “X” next to the applications you want to remove.
  7. Confirm.
  8. Repeat until all cruft and untrustworthy applications are removed.

Find any applications you did not realize were installed? Yup, thought you would. Put them in the comments below so we can see the sneaky ones?