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Facebook security hole lets you view friends’ private chats

Major uh oh

A major security flaw was discovered today on Facebook, according to Steve O’Hear who said, “Today I was tipped off that there is a major security flaw in the social networking site that, with just a few mouse clicks, enables any user to view the live chats of their ‘friends’. Using what sounds like a simple trick, a user can also access their friends’ latest pending friend-requests and which friends they share in common. That’s a lot of potentially sensitive information.” (emphasis is mine)

After testing the security hole out, O’Hear and several commenters to the article agreed that it was working for them and that they could see other peoples’ live chats. While some people worry that you can see who their friends are on Facebook, there are bigger fish to fry- people could (for a limited time today, according to Facebook staff) see your private conversations.

Proposed privacy bill

This news comes on the heels of the proposed privacy bill that would “require web publishers to alert users about how their information is being collected, used, shared and stored,” according to National Association of Realtors Senior Technology Policy Representative, Melanie Wyne.

Social media is mandatory so now what?

In a world where even two years ago, 93% of social media users expect companies to be using social media as well, there is a race to get online, but at what risk? Are users truly made aware of all privacy settings when they sign up for accounts or is it hidden in fine print, cute graphics or in a sea of words? Are users aware of privacy setting changes or do they have to dig ten steps to access a list of which applications their account has permitted to use?

What is the answer given that digital communications is a common business tool and no longer a fun toy? Should we be overly cautious and put as many walls up as possible or give up and adopt a policy of not saying anything online you wouldn’t say on stage in front of others?

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Dunes

    May 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    So a person could view what a RE PRO says publicly and then see what they say behind the curtain? Now wouldn’t that be interesting, I understand the other horrible uses that could be made from this but still………..

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to see if what someone says while doing their “Social Media Marketing” matched up with their “Private chat” ?

    That’s a betting pool I’d love to get in on ” Hey I bet XXX that one is full of….” ; )
    What’s that trick, how is it done????????lol

  2. Frankie

    May 6, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Facebook has so many holes that need to be fixed. I had someone hack my account and view all of my pictures. That someone was an ex-girlfriend and it caused all kinds of trouble! They are so big, they are too slow to react to these leaks.

  3. Jason @ Inbound Internet Marketing

    May 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    In the UK Facebook’s problems are bigger than a security breach, they are being seen as almost complicit in putting kids at risk!

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