When people think about Facebook, the last thing on their minds is security and privacy

Zuckerberg wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post today addressing concerns that users of the site have voiced. Zuckerberg echoed Sandberg’s statement about wanting to create a more open society with the use of Facebook.

“If we give people control over what they share, they will want to share more. If people share more, the world will become more open and connected. And a world that’s more open and connected is a better world. These are still our core principles today,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Zuckerberg said that the intent of the privacy changes was to give users “granular control” but realized that wasn’t want people wanted.

“We just missed the mark.”

Zuckerberg said in the piece that Facebook will be having new privacy settings that will be simpler and people will be able to turn off third-party services.

“Most people provide enough information on Facebook where the bad guy can crack the code,” Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, a Boston-based company said.

Natalia Vandeberg, 42 and University of South Florida student majoring in public relations, agrees.

“You’re putting yourself out there. You put little breadcrumbs for the thieves to connect the dots with,” Vandeberg said.

There are some websites that people can use to see how “at risk” their privacy is on Facebook.

One website, reclaimprivacy.org scans your profile with easy to use directions. The website scans major areas on your profile and its privacy settings. It lets a person know what should be altered or changed.

Although Siciliano suggests that the website may give false hope, he thinks it’s a step in the right direction.

“Its not going to solve many of the self generated problems users face. It may even be a false sense of security,” he said.

Siciliano suggests that users shouldn’t share information on their profiles, such as children's names or birthdays. Doing this reduces the risk of scamming users.

Adrienne Ambush, 25, also a USF student, said that she dealt with privacy concerns before she decided to delete her account.

“When I changed my status, people always tried to ask me what I meant by that or what I was talking about or where I was and who I was with,” Ambush said. “I was just tired of people constantly asking me questions that had to do with my Facebook account.”

There is also another website that pulls status updates, youropenbook.org. The objective of the website is to bring to attention that “the information Facebook makes public about its users via its search API [Application Programming Interface]. Facebook exposed this service on April 21st, 2010. Our goal is to get Facebook to restore the privacy of this information, so that this website and others like it no longer work.”

Besides scanning your profile with the websites, users should stay up to date and informed on any changes that are made on the website.

How secure do you feel your information really is? Facebook has many perks—albeit the reasons have become a little clichéd. People can connect with old friends, stay in touch with family and create and invite people to events and parties (while saving paper and stamps in the process). The site has also become an all around way to make a boring day a little less monotonous.

Then there are the downsides. Facebook has become a breeding ground for people to “facestalk”—a term used to describe people who check and monitor other people’s activity on the site. Most users are unaware that what they think is private really isn’t. And with privacy settings constantly changing on the site, it makes for easy facestalking.

The website, co-created by Mark Zuckerberg, has become the biggest social media networking websites in the world, boasting 400 million active users. That means people who use the site can be easy pickings for criminals if they aren’t careful.

People who use the website should be aware that Zuckerberg hopes that one day everyone will live in an open society. According to David Kirkpatrick’s book, The Facebook Effect, COO Sheryl Sandberg was quoted as saying:

“Mark really does believe very much in transparency and the vision of an open society and open world, and so he wants to push people that way. I think he also understands that the way to get there is to give people granular control and comfort. He hopes you'll get more open, and he's kind of happy to help you get there. So for him, it's more of a means to an end. For me, I'm not as sure.”

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