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How safe is facebook ?

Facebook (FB) has come a long way since it was launched in 2004 by Mark Zukerberg. It is one of the most popular social networking sites around, boasting more than 500 million active users and increasing daily.

Its growth has been met with a lot of criticism on a range of issues, especially the privacy of users, child safety, data mining etc. A large number of tech blogs have emerged recently, criticizing the recent changes made to the privacy policy. Some blogs have urged people to remove or delete their FB accounts altogether.

The issues of concern vary from bugs which expose private chats of users to privacy policies adopted by the company. Around mid march, an article was posted on zdnet (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/facebook-breach-user-phone-numbers-exposed-but-whos-to-blame/35015?tag=mantle_skin;content) mentioning that user phone numbers have been exposed.

If you’ve ever typed your phone number on a Facebook wall, maybe as part of a small group or just to tell a friend to call you, it could be out there for anyone on the Web – even non-Facebook members – to see, depending on the privacy settings in place for that wall.

That’s where Facebook’s share of the blame comes in. FB has once again compromised user’s privacy settings by not only making the process more complex but by making it an opt-out process, instead of opt-in. Users may not necessarily be aware that their wall page is set for everyone – the entire Internet – to see. So when they announce to their friends that they’ve lost their phone on a FB wall and friends reply by posting their phone numbers… well, you end up on Evil.com.

People who like to maintain a certain degree of privacy should be prepared to spend considerable time going through the many options available in the settings pages. Even after the major overhaul of the site’s privacy settings, many argued that the new settings intended to share more of the user’s data with everybody and was heavily criticized by the Canadian government and a Norwegian consumer protection agency.

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