Abusing Facebook’s “Publicly Available Information”

I have to say, one of my favorite new features of Facebook is their mandated publicly available information. This is a great way to help me build out my data-mining operation by augmenting my data with Facebook’s social graph. As an added bonus, if I find a particularly interesting target I can simply look up who I need to befriend in order to gain a more privileged view of their profile.

Also, I don’t deal with stealing identities, but my friend Joe says that this is a godsend. Facebook is suggesting that all family relationships be moved into the public space, but simply having the friend list available means he can mine for maiden names quite easily. All it takes is a quick search for females (that is public now too) that have three names whose last name matches our target. As women are more frequently including their maiden names in their profile listing this will only become more effective.

What I am discussing here is not new, it is just the continued evolution of shady happenings that are improved by having easier access to better data. Check out what some MIT kids did with their Gaydar project for something a bit less theoretical.

What is your favorite way to abuse Facebook’s new publicly available information?

As a footnote, to decrease my public surface area, I’ve made a few decisions regarding my Facebook account:

  1. My profile picture will always be of at least 2 people of my gender, or of me in profile without my face.
  2. I have removed my current city.
  3. I have removed my association with all pages that are not maintained by Facebook.

Facebook, is this what you were hoping to accomplish? A reduction in the value of the information stored on your network?

Also read my original indignant post about the change or volunteer for my privacy experiment. The saga continues: Facebook insults our intelligence.

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