Not content to destroy your privacy, Facebook now messes with your friends’ too…

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but with every day that passes, I’m increasingly convinced that, at least for people in the US, Facebook is probably the single biggest outlet for Digital Water on earth.  (If you’re new here, you can see my original post on Digital Water for an explanation of the term, and there are several since then if you’re interested.)

The latest little bit of unethical and undisclosed nastiness is courtesy of the Facebook iPhone app.  At least according to some fresh reports out today, it uploads your contacts’ phone numbers to Facebook, and now they (i.e. Facebook) have contact information on their servers for your friends, taken from you, without telling you it was happening.

Read the details in this piece today by Charles Arthur in The Guardian newspaper.  Kurt von Moos, who is quoted in The Guardian piece, was kind enough to post the proof along with his comments.  Log into facebook, then paste this link (http://www.facebook.com/friends/edit/?sk=phonebook) in your browser.  Facebook says these are contacts “I imported from my phone”.  I did?  Really?  Funny, I don’t remember doing that.

Anyway, my point isn’t really that Facebook’s views on Privacy are entirely self-serving, questionable and possibly nefarious.  I don’t think Facebook itself being irresponsible with user’s data is actually news to anyone these days.

What I think is more important ties to the exploitation of Facebook by third parties, and the potential harm if that rich a source continues to be intentionally mined (see here) and breached or breaks (see here.)  As the official Web site name for the founder’s biopic (500millionfriends.com) so eloquently puts it, there’s data in there on nearly one out of every ten people on earth. Does anyone else think that maybe everything in there can’t be kept under control in the long run?

How’s this for a parting thought to leave festering? Combine an “imaginary friend” (see the Robin Sage Experiment) and the ability to watch your friends’ supposedly private live chats (see the hack here) and what do you get? A staggering recipe for everything from competitive intel gathering on rival corporations to espionage.

Y’know, this stuff would be fun if it wasn’t so freaking scary.  (I guess that last bug has some good in it – great for telling if you’re spouse is running around on you since FB is undoubtedly where half the flirting is going on…)

Anyway, if data is becoming Digital Water, Facebook may just be the biggest, leakiest container of it on the planet.

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this blog are mine alone, and do not represent the views, policies or positions of Cyveillance, Inc. or its parent, QinetiQ-North America.  I speak here only for myself and no postings made on this blog should be interpreted as communications by, for or on behalf of, Cyveillance (though I may occasionally plug the extremely cool work we do and the fascinating, if occasionally frightening, research we openly publish.)

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