Concern raised on security of social networking sites

Fann Sim
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The confusing privacy settings on Facebook makes it hard for people to secure their personal information online. (Getty Images)

How many times have you fumbled with your Facebook privacy settings, only to give up five minutes later because you couldn’t figure it out?

One in two people check their settings at least every two to three months, and are less likely to change their privacy settings that often, a Trend Micro study released early September found.

Founder of women’s online forum and lifestyle site Nicole Yee said she has often found herself confused over the privacy settings on Facebook.

“I consider myself to be pretty savvy but because things are constantly changing, I chose not to use [Facebook] because I just don’t have the time to understand it properly,” Yee said, at the sidelines of the launch of Trend Micro Titanium 2013, a security software that allows users to scan their Facebook for privacy concerns.

Many Singapore youths, however, do use such social networking sites but may also not understand the dangers of sharing too much information online.

In a survey of 800 Singapore youths by Singapore Polytechnic students, 33.6 per cent of respondents said they would reveal personal information about themselves to strangers on social networking sites. Among the respondents who allow strangers to view their information online, 33.1 per cent do not allow parental access to this content.

Information such as birthdays, schools, family members, hometowns shared online can often answer security questions and allow people to access your emails and other online accounts. Other consequences such as social engineering, identity theft, cyber bullying, damaged reputation, targeted advertising and real-world threats may also happen.

“Consumers are spending most of their time checking email, surfing the web and using social networks to keep up with friends. Privacy is also a major concern as cybercriminals are scoping out the privacy of our online identities in new and more interesting ways,” said Terence Tang, regional director for digital marketing and consumer business at Trend Micro.