Talk about a violation of privacy. LEGITIMATE companies are creating fake accounts on social networks, such as Facebook, twitter, and MySpace, gathering as much PERSONAL info about users on the site as they can, then SELLING that information to anyone with the right amount of money, no matter what they want to use it for. Most scraping companies don’t even ASK their “clients” what the information will be used for. And the best part of it all is there are NO LAWS, at least at the national level, in the U.S to STOP it. Don’t believe me, go read it HERE, then come back to see what you can do about it. I’ve never been afraid to be who I really am on the web, mostly because I never posted information that couldn’t be safeguarded from people I don’t know. But these companies get around that. They’ll send you friend requests so they can access your personal information, along with all the information your other friends share. So here is how I plan to keep safe:
1. Make sure you are only friends with people you know on sites like MySpace and Facebook. If you don’t know them personally, ask for a way to identify who they are. If they are unwilling to provide that information, move on.
2. IF you post personally identifying information (i.e real name, birth date, phone numbers, email, etc) make sure it is viewable ONLY by your friends. Otherwise, if one of your friends happens to be “friends” with these “people” that information will be available to them as well. Obviously there is the option of not posting that information at all, but that decision should be made by you.
3. And finally, watch what you say online. I know it sucks, you should be allowed to have some level of leeway on the internet, but the fact of the matter is these companies aren’t going to stop unless the government steps in and does something about it, which you and I both know is not going to happen since they seem to have a vested interest in this as well (Read the article to see what I mean).