Names on Facebook
Most of my Facebook friends are cautious people who are sensible of the implications of an online profile, so I can’t remember any of them having had difficulties or embarassing moments due to oversharing. They also know their way around the privacy settings and how to hide their profile or friend list from strangers (or even friends).
One thing, however, that irritates me when browsing the friend list, are the friends that use fake names or shortened forms such as Ma Ny or Lo La. Combined with a photo of their dog or a random sunset, it makes me think for a second: “Who is this person again?” Guys, this is a Facebook! A collection of pictures and names of the people I know. I think of it as a dynamic extension of my address book, in which I also prefer having full, real names (unless the person acts under a different, well-known pseudonym, but that’s a different story …).
Now you may argue that you’re doing it for privacy reasons, and I can see the noble intentions behind it, but I believe that changing one’s name is not the right strategy to protect one’s privacy. It could even invoke a false sense of security.
A fake name is not the best way to protect you from stalkers, your boss or other annoying people:
Facebook has privacy settings that allow you to hide your profile from search, both in Facebook and on external search engines. You can also limit messages to friends and new friend requests to friends of friends, or block certain people. I believe these are better methods to prevent yourself from being found and stalked than changing your name, which may also annoy your friends.
A fake name doesn’t do much to hide your identity from Facebook:
If you think your enemy is not your boss but Mark Zuckerberg, think again. Facebook’s business model is to take your demographics and the observed behavior on Facebook and attached sites, e.g. your “likes”, and serve advertisements that fit your interests so you hopefully click on them. Is your name relevant for this?! Not much. If you still think Facebook shouldn’t know your name, because it allows matching with your real world identity, think about your email address or other associated accounts. Do they contain your name? If yes, Facebook could get it if they really want it. Which also means, if you really want to build a fake identity (which I cannot endorse, of course) on Facebook, you need more than just a modified name.
Do you think this Facebook page and its red and blue box test will show you some nasty secret behind McDonalds?
Well, let me show you the nasty secret behind this Facebook page:
This is an attack known as “clickjacking”, where you are tricked into clicking something you don’t see, for example “liking” something on Facebook. Unfortunately there is no way to find out about this except being suspicious about being asked to click somewhere and inspecting the page’s source, which you may not be able to. If you’re interested, please contact me. I don’t want to reveal the exact method here. Hopefully browser vendors are bringing a solution, though.
Facebook and Skype
A few days back, I blogged this provoking question: Did Facebook sell our Data to Skype? Well, I found out that Facebook asks some of their members to import their Skype contacts. I haven’t seen the respective screen, but a friend commented on it on my Facebook wall, another person had sent me an email about it as an answer to this posting and I found it on Techcrunch as well. (By the way: This blog has a comment function. Of course you can contact me through other channels, but why not keep your comments along with the article for everyone to read?)
The girl from whom I had received the invite has confirmed meanwhile that she entered their Skype credentials into Facebook to import her contact list, so the invite displayed in the Skype alerts was coming from the same feature. She did not tell me any details but it was not like that she sent the invite on purpose (remember: we are already connected). I assume that Facebook makes sending invites the default option and either hides the opt-out or doesn’t provide any at all?! Anybody knows that?
Did Facebook sell our data to Skype?!
Recently, the blue Skype notification box popped out from my system tray. Previously I had only seen it when someone chose to add me on Skype, but this time it was something else:
An invitation to Facebook! How has this landed in my Skype?! In my Skype settings it says now that I can receive alerts from Facebook, but I don’t remember giving that option in the first place!
There’s also the next screen to show “my Facebook friends”, and this is the scary part:
I am already on Facebook but with a different email address, so there was no way for Skype to match my existing Facebook account. Therefore, the people listed there might be from my Skype contact list, but here they’re listed with their Facebook name, image and link to their profile! It seems that somehow Facebook must have allowed Skype to match the email addresses of their users!!
Has anybody else seen those alerts?! There’s something going on and I don’t know whether I “like” it …