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From IPO to Scams: How Not to Get Rich on Facebook

May 3rd, 2012 | by admin admin | in Security Advice |    13   comments

On February 1, amid Apple-worthy buzz, Facebook filed its initial public offering to raise $ 5 billion. Some analysts predict that the social networking giant will be valued at $ 75 to $ 100 billion by the time actual shares are available, likely in May. However, unless you can afford to lose a large chunk of your investment, most experts recommend staying away from the buying frenzy.1

And why is Facebook worth so much? Data. Personal data. Yours. By posting about a wedding, you are inviting ads from caterers. By clicking on apps and liking 1,001 friends, you are creating a wealth of information for others to use.

Take a close look at your profile and posts. Who can see them? Your friends. Do you know all of your “friends” personally? And can you trust *their* friends, or friends of friends? If you tag someone, all his or her friends (or friends of friends, depending on that person’s privacy settings) can see your post or photo. Ditto if you comment on friends’ posts. The original post’s privacy settings determine who can see your comment.

Given that, are you comfortable with that entire social network knowing where you live and work? Where your children go to school, what they look like and what their names are? What your daily routine is? When you’re going away on vacation?

Then there are the apps. Try this: click on your “privacy settings” and scroll down to the apps section. You’ll see a list of apps that have access to your profile and other information. Do you remember giving all those apps permission? By exploring this section, you’ll discover how much information is available to third parties on Facebook. After all, this is how Facebook will make money for its new shareholders. Good time to prune your list.

That’s just legitimate apps. There are plenty of scams too. One of the most recent tricks involves “remove timeline” websites or Facebook pages. There is no way to get rid of the Timeline setting once you’ve switched over. These apps, at best, will just use your information to spam you and your friends.

This scam joins the long-time “Facebook dislike button,” “stalker tracker” and “watch this video” tricks online. Then there are the old-fashioned “Lose XX Pounds in 7 Days,” “Make $$$ from home” and “Win a Free [Expensive Gadget]” ads that the BBB has been warning about for years.

We will cover some of these scams in upcoming blogs. Considering February 7 was Safer Internet Day, it’s an apt time to review safety on social networks. Just remember, Facebook may not make you rich, but it can make you poor…

1. Facebook IPO: Should You Invest in It? Wall Street Journal Marketbeat blog

Is Facebook Overvalued at $ 50 Billion? The Economist

A Sobering Look at Facebook. Financial Post

Author: Susanna Chu

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