Facebook hoax about keeping info private with new Timeline

The following hoax has been going around Facebook for some time now:

 Hey everybody. I like to keep my FB private except to those I am friends with. So if you all would do the following, I’d appreciate it. With the new FB TIMELINE on its way this week for EVERYONE…please do both of us a favor: Hover over my name above. In a few seconds you’ll see a box that says “Subscribed”. Hover over that, then go to “Comments and Likes” and unclick it. That will stop all our posts from showing up on the sidebar for strangers to see, but most important, it limits hackers from invading our profiles. If you repost this I will do the same for you. You’ll know I’ve acknowledged you, because if you tell me that you’ve done it I’ll “like” it.
 A BIG THANK YOU!!!!

GeekyGirl.ca has blogged about it:
http://www.geekygirl.ca/tag/facebook/

Thatnonsense.com also blogged about it:
http://www.thatsnonsense.com/view.php?id=1452

If you Google search the keywords you’ll find other reliable sources as well.

The reasons this is a hoax is because it doesn’t make sense on several levels.  I’ve recently helped a client with this same type of issue.  It boils down to your own privacy settings and the privacy settings of your friends.  Strangers will not see your posts unless you specify so in your privacy settings.

If you do as the hoax message requests, all that will happen is you won’t see that persons comments and posts.  Your friends and the public in general will still see their likes and comments depending on their privacy settings.

Let’s look at an example.  If you post a comment and your security settings are set to friends only, then only your friends will see that comment.  If your privacy settings are set to friends of friends, then your friends, friends will see it.  Even if your friend does as you ask, your friends friends will still see it.

So therefore you are in control of your privacy, asking your friends to do it is totally unreliable, not all of them would do it, even if it was helpful, and that would just be a stupid security feature.  Think about it…  Who would design a program where one of the security features requires you to ask all your friends to click this button to disable it?  Not very reliable and you have no control over it.  Spoils the whole point of it!

Think about it like this.  You leave your house for work in the morning, but instead of closing the blinds in the house, you ask all your neighbours to please not look in your house while you’re gone.  Maybe they will do as you ask, maybe they won’t, but it doesn’t mean their friends won’t come look in your windows.  🙂  OK that was probably a stupid example, but I think you understand.  If not, drop me a line at support@twinbytes.ca or post a comment below or ask a question on our page

Why have they done this hoax?  Well, I’m guessing the reasons are probably to cause unnecessary traffic on Facebook to slow it down further, just as these hoaxes are usually meant to do, but even worse…we won’t be able to see any of our friends comments or likes! “Strangers” as they call it, which is really just friends of friends, will still be able to see it, and so your friend doesn’t accomplish what they wanted in the first place, and you won’t be able to see your friends comments and likes.  So going forward, you will not be informed if you friend made a comment on something that you would have normally liked to be informed of immediately, like birthday party or death in the family, etc.  When you think about it in those terms, whoever started this hoax is really screwing with our social networking.

On the business side, it’s bad for businesses like myself.  If my friend likes my business and then they tell all their friends to hide their comments and likes, then there goes my free advertising to their friends.  That sucks for business!  No privacy issues their, you are just letting your friends know you like my business.  If you don’t want to share this information, change your privacy settings, don’t pass around a hoax like this which serves no purpose that benefits you in any way.  The only purpose it serves is to hurt your friends and local business.

I’m a computer technology analyst and support technician who deals with security and privacy like this regularly.  You might want to undo your settings if you followed that procedure so you can keep up with your friends still and pass this blog around and share it with your friends so they also know it’s a hoax and not to pass it around.

About Daniel Gauthier

work as a peace officer in various forms. Daniel wrote a book in 2009 called “Tech-Knowledgy” which got him on television and radio a few times. The concept behind the book was “to level the playing field between computer techs and non-techies so they don’t get take advantage of”. Daniel has a couple certifications including MCP and A+; he is preparing to write the Network+ exam and has studied CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and CHFI (Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator). Daniel has run his own computer service business “TwinBytes” since 2004. He has done a few talks on cyber security and generally enjoys training, educating and helping others.

3 thoughts on “Facebook hoax about keeping info private with new Timeline

  1. wpgsgeekygirl

    Hi Daniel,

    Thank you for the mention. I am so glad to see others writing about this issue, and I enjoyed reading your take on it 🙂

  2. Pingback: How to ensure Facebook privacy to friends only | Tech-Knowledgy (Based on the book)

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