Mar
23
2013

Beware of your Facebook Likes! Sorry Facebook friends, I just won’t ‘Like’ you anymore.

Beware of your Facebook Likes! This past week it came to light that researchers at The University of Cambridge discovered they could make very accurate assumptions on a Facebook user based on what the user Likes  (pdf here). I’m glad that my own Facebook paranoia finally has a little more information to back it up.

I’m the kind of Facebook user who likes to read up on my friends doings, occasionally share something, and do some old friend stalking. However, it’s extremely rare for me to Like anything. I’m talking about dogs, babies, some cake you made…I don’t care how innocent, I refuse to click that Like button. In my own mind, all I can think is “I don’t care how uninteresting this is, somehow, a hacker will get my social security number, and a copy of my house key, and steal my identity.”

Ok, maybe my fears are a little over the top. But the fact that these researchers can determine things like my political and religious beliefs, IQ and substance use, “with an accuracy rate of more than 80 percent” is kind of scary. Is it the end of the world if strangers wound up finding out that information about me? No, not at all. It’s just uncomfortable to have anyone find out anything about me that I didn’t tell them myself.

This reminds me of an old friend, who refused to use EZ-Pass (automatic toll payments) because they thought they would get tracked. That seemed ridiculous to me because it’s not like they were trafficking a trunk full of drugs. Ok, so you got tracked, and now someone knows that you went and bought a gallon of milk?? Um, no threat. I supposed it’s a real concern if you’re living on the shady side of course.

So I suppose I am now the modern day equivalent of those that feared EZ-Pass. I’m just going about my business, and following all of the rules, so I really shouldn’t be concerned with the possibility that I could be tracked with Facebook Likes. Yet here I am, concerned, just like my old friend. Maybe I shouldn’t have made fun of them, since I’m sharing in a little of their paranoia now.

When it’s all said and done, only time will tell if my views on this have any merit. You know that the second a story breaks out about some hackers grabbing information on people via Facebook Likes, and releasing their names, I’ll be shouting “I told you so!!!” from the top of my roof. I don’t really think that day will come, but then again I still think it’s possible.

Over the years, there are examples over and over again of systems getting broken into. I’m pretty sure that every credit card transaction system or bank thought that their systems were rock solid. Someone finds a way in sooner or later it seems. Will someone find a way ‘in’ this time? I’m not sure. Do I actually have anything to ‘lose’ in this case? I’m not sure about that either. Either way, I’m staying on the safe side. So the next time you’re about to get insulted that I didn’t Like your baby photo, maybe you’ll understand.

About the Author:

I like technology, sci-fi, fantasy, and anime. You know, cool geeky stuff.

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