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I just signed up for Facebook and there are some threats to your privacy, but they aren't exactly what many privacy advocates are talking about.

Most of the fuss is over your personal information being exposed for the world to see, and that is definitely a problem.

Especially for those who seem to have no discretion over what they post on their site.Info that could prevent a younger person from getting a summer job, or even older individuals applying for a professional position.

Also, things that can be picked up by insurance companies to deny coverage or in cases of litigation like divorce.

They are all important, but at least they are dangers that are out in the open.In my case I used a fictitious birth date; the one item, when linked to your name, that can lead ID thieves to more private information and the ability to steal your identity.

This, plus the fact that my site lacks anything else of a sensitive nature, except my e-mail address, still doesn't make me feel safe.

You'll see later.

Of course, if you go on to add more data in the future without checking to see if it, along with what is already there, could potentially lead to the theft of your identity, then you're in trouble.What is most dangerous about Facebook is what you don't see or hear about.

You can be ambushed from the underground on two fronts.

First, there is online stalking by companies like Spokeo, Pipl and CVGadget.

As an example, Spokeo can take an e-mail address and locate people in social networks like Facebook and MySpace.

For a small fee you can download your e-mail address book to Spokeo, and learn the habits of friends, relatives and complete strangers.

That's the reason I left the "Personal Information" section completely blank.The second approach is even scarier, a feature of Facebook which allows outside developers to create small programs called "applications" for members to do things like playing poker, getting daily horoscopes, and sending each other virtual fantasies.

With the younger set, the latter must cause parents a lot of consternation over their kids.

Word is there are about 24,000 applications that have been built by 400,000 developers.And here's the kicker.

Once these developers have your personal data, there is nothing Facebook can do.

Adrienne Felt of the University of Virginia investigated the procedure in her thesis and found out that 90 out of 150 of Facebook's most popular applications (that's 60 percent) have unnecessary access to your private information.

Felt says in her research:"The application can request information about Jane, her friends, and her fellow network members.

The owner of the application is free to collect, look at, and potentially misuse this information.

The Facebook Terms of Use agreement tells application developers not to do this, but Facebook has no way of finding out or stopping them."So why did I sign on with Facebook, and will probably do the same with MySpace? To help promote my articles, letting friends, relatives and the world know just what I am doing, hopefully adding some readers along the way.

It is also an experiment on my part to see what could happen in the case of a privacy breach that I can report to the public.

So goes technology and progress.Please leave your comments or E-mail me: [email protected] more info: on Spokeo Adrienne Felt Facebook problem Adrienne Felt Facebook research
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