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Facebook security gets a little looser

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You might think that in the wake of all the revelations about government snooping, social media sites would have tightened up their privacy controls. You might think that if you were painfully naive. Instead Facebook has just made it much easier for interested outsiders to track you down on the site.

Previously Facebook users had a (limited) amount of control on who could look up their Timeline with a name search. They had the choice of allowing Friends, Friends of Friends or Everyone. Facebook obviously preferred users not to limit access to people who could see their advertising so quietly removed the limiting feature for those not using it, claiming that it was used by "only a single-digit percentage of the nearly 1.2 billion people on its network".

Essentially this was because the function was not clearly presented as a security option. Facebook's privacy officer Michael Richter seems to be saying that the company got rid of a layer of security because it wasn't being used effectively. "The setting was created when Facebook was a simple directory of profiles and it was very limited," Richter said. "For example, it didn’t prevent people from navigating to your Timeline by clicking your name in a story in News Feed, or from a mutual friend’s Timeline."

That would be fine if Facebook was introducing tighter and more user-friendly security systems. Of course they are not. They are leaving it up to users to meticulously ring-fence every post in a way that few will have the energy or know-how to do. "Today, people can also search Facebook using Graph Search making it even more important to control the privacy of the things you share rather than how people get to your Timeline," Richter said, the equivalent of the company telling users to be careful because they had created several new ways of invading your privacy.

In short, it's up to you, because Facebook sure as hell isn't going to go out of its way to limit its page views. The bottom line is that privacy costs profits and Facebook can never have enough profits.

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