Published in News
Facebook denies that it is spying on users
by Nick Farrell on05 February 2010
Chainletter should be dismissed
Social notworking site Facebook has denied that a chainletter which is being distributed on its site is telling the truth about users who can read all their personal data.
The email reads: "All FB friends. This is important. Do this asap! Go to settings. Click on privacy settings. Click on block users. in [sic] the name box enter 'automation labs'. A list of approx 20 people you dont even know will come up. Block each one individually. These people have access to your facebook account/profile and spy on what you do … "
In a statement Facebook said that the chain message claims certain users have special access to profile information. It’s not true, and we don’t know where it originated. The message exploits a standard Facebook search feature within the settings on a user's Facebook page.
Facebook's privacy settings include a feature to block certain people from a user's profile. Once a user types the name of the person he wishes to block, Facebook generates a list of all Facebook users with either that name, a similar name or people associated with the name. So if a user typed in Automation Labs as directed, a window popped up listing people associated with Automation Labs.
However typing in any name will produce a similar list of associated users or those with similar names. All the chain mail does is instruct Facebook users to block people they probably don't know, which is harmless.