Facebook Murders – Killer Uses Information From Victim’s Online Profile

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Have you heard about the Facebook murders?

No, you haven’t. That’s because it hasn’t happened, yet.

The latest dustup over Facebook’s privacy changes has played out around the web, in the print media, and even in Washington D.C. as the company decided to put dollars above users by changing it’s privacy settings and policies. If you missed it, here is a quick overview.

facebook-murders Facebook recently implemented some new features and policies that come on the heels of last fall’s set of privacy "updates" in which every single Facebook user had all of their privacy settings changed to allow EVERYONE to view EVERYTHING, unless the user stopped to read and comprehend a pop-up screen that basically required users to decide whether to keep their old privacy settings or to use Facebook’s "recommended" settings. You can about imagine what most users that were just wanting to pop onto Facebook for a minute and see if there were any new pictures or updates from their friends chose.

Now, Facebook has implemented something it is calling F8, which basically allows other websites to use that newly private data for various purposes. As you can imagine, some people are up in arms about this.

Facebook Changes Privacy Settings Following Murder of Local Student

The problem with the Facebook privacy debate is that it is being conducted by technical bloggers, covered by technical journalists, and used for publicity by politicians. What gets left out of this debate is that of the almost 500 million Facebook users out there, most of them are NOT technically savvy. In fact, the whole reason Facebook’s growth has been so phenomenal is because it was able to tap into "regular" people.

If Facebook continues on its present course, the privacy debate being engaged in today will come crashing down someday soon. Since Facebook used to take care of its users and inspired a certain sense of trust among them, many non-technical users don’t even realize that there is any debate going on about Facebook privacy. They don’t read blogs, or click on LIKE buttons all over the web. They don’t have Twitter accounts, they don’t know what Digg is, they use Internet Explorer because it came with their computer. The most technical thing that they know about the Internet is that you can search for stuff with Google. Most importantly, they have never revisited their privacy settings.

If you are thinking, "Cry me a river," about embarrassing pictures, then you are either not thinking it through, or you are a simpleton. Either way, let me paint you a picture.

Anytown, USA – Some Day in the Near Future

Police today announced an arrest in the kidnapping and murder of local high school student, Jane Doe. Police reports suggest that the suspected killer, John Smith, used information found in Doe’s Facebook profile to carry out the kidnapping and murder.

Smith, a parking lot attendant, noticed Doe when she visited a friend at the community college. A high school parking permit sticker affixed to Doe’s window told Smith that Doe was currently enrolled at Lincoln High School. Smith apparently sent several friend requests to other students at Lincoln including fellow student Bob Jones. Jones said he accepted Smith’s friend request because he needed more "friends" for his "mafia" in a Facebook game called Mafia Wars.

Jones was already a friend of Doe’s, so being Jones’ "friend" gave Smith access to a wide array of information about Doe. Recent changes in the default Facebook privacy settings made much of Doe’s information available to "everyone," and even more data available to "friends of friends."

On the day of the kidnapping, Doe responded to a status update made by Jones about attending the school’s bonfire ceremony, indicating that she would, "see him there." Smith knew what kind of car Doe drove thanks to some pictures posted to her and Jones’ Facebook pages. A quick glance at the High School webpage or Facebook page told him the time and location of the bonfire. Using the address in her profile, Smith waited for Doe to leave the house and followed here. Then, he sent a text message to her cellphone indicating that "they were meeting on the west side of the parking lot". Smith had found Doe’s number via another friend’s Facebook profile from an update made months ago.

Jones grabbed Doe and forced her into his van at gunpoint. Then, using the victim’s cellphone he posted a "mobile status update" to the Facebook website indicating that she had car troubles and would not be attending. Later, he sent another update saying that she was "Chilin’ late at Taco Bell." Friends were therefore unconcerned when she didn’t arriveā€¦

Think it’s far fetched?

Click on the links of some of the people who are friends of your friends. See how much information you can view about them. Sure, some of those accounts are locked down, but many are not.

Next, pick a sorority and do a little searching around on Facebook for it. How many co-eds can you find personal information about?

It isn’t about pranks and antics, it’s about real world privacy.

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