Fair warning to my Facebook friends

Last year I started to grow concerns about my privacy on Facebook. Not because of another change in Facebook privacy settings or a hack of any kind but because I started to realize that the biggest threat to my online privacy are my friends themselves.

At the same time I know that there is nothing different from offline: when you say something private to someone you trust them it will stay between you and them. However, they can disclose it anyway, violating your privacy (and the trust you granted them).

And it’s not that I really put private stuff on Facebook either, even offline the number of people I really share private stuff with is close to 1, may be 2. But when I post something on Facebook it is always a conscious choice as to what level of privacy this post will have. I also know that my feelings about that can change and from time to time I just reset all the posts on my timeline to “friends only” (you can do that in your privacy settings, there’s a switch called “Limit The Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline”).

What started that concerns of mine was a series of posts about people being asked to disclose their Facebook usernames and passwords in job interviews (here’s one link about that but there are dozens of the same kind scattered around the net). However, what really struck a nerve, was that time, a few months ago: I was chatting on Skype with a good friend of mine and realized, 40 minutes into the conversation, that I was not chatting with my friend but with her husband!

The guy was connected on Skype with his wife’s account and, when I started to chat, “forgot” to disclose his identity to me. You would say “genuine mistake, she left her Skype account opened and he used the computer just after her”, yes, may be, except that later my friend told me her husband requires from her that she shares her Skype and Facebook login information with him (and I guess her email too).

Now I will not discuss the evident privacy and trust issues this is for my friend to have such a controlling husband but bear in mind that this guy, that I actually never met, now has access to my full Timeline without me knowing. By sharing her Facebook password with her husband (who’s not one of my friend, neither on Facebook nor in real life) she gave him access not to one private information I may have share with her but to my whole Timeline!

I pondered for a while what I should do about it and I finally decided to put her account on the restricted list. I did not block or unfriend her because I wanted to keep being able to see her updates and chat with her (although now I first make sure it’s actually her). But friends, be warned, if I discover one day you gave your Facebook password to somebody else I will either block, unfriend or put you on the restricted list.

You have been warned :)

This post is part of the second “Back to Blogging” challenge initiated by Stephanie Booth.

Image Credits: John Goodridge

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