Facebook is Watching You

Do you want your current geographic location a matter of public record? A new Facebook App did just that before being pulled a day later. The worst part is that the app was never even formally announced.

Another covert change replaced Facebook users’ emails with @Facebook accounts. Now, when a message is sent to an external email address, it will be formatted like a Facebook message, including your name and profile picture.

Why are we volunteering so much personal information to sites like Facebook? Legal protections against cyberstalking mainly apply to harassment doled out through electronic sources (email, etc.). In fact, 25% of stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report. E-mail was the most common form of cyber stalking (83%), and GPS tracking occurred in 10% of the cases. Giving out email addresses to anyone who cares to learn them is both foolish and dangerous.

However, viewing a person on Facebook, even obsessively, is completely legal. So long as the person does not attempt to contact or harass the victim, it isn’t considered stalking. Before this line is crossed, a potential stalker can have a complete profile of a target, from their daily routines, to their friends, to their place of business. Not only are we failing to protect ourselves by volunteering this information, we are actively enabling those that may seek us harm.

Additional Resources

Policy Mic Facebook Stalker App: http://www.policymic.com/articles/10267/facebook-stalker-app-and-new-email-account-show-the-dark-side-of-the-facebook-ipo

CNN Facebook Quietly Unveils ‘Stalking App’: http://articles.cnn.com/2012-06-25/tech/tech_social-media_facebook-find-friends-nearby_1_mobile-apps-facebook-users-new-feature?_s=PM:TECH

National Center for Victims of Crime Cyberstalking: http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32458

Bureau of Justice Statistics Stalking Victimization in the U.S.: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/svus.pdf

 

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