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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I don't trust Facebook any more

Once upon a time, there was a social network called Friendster. Everyone rushed to join it. Other networks arose and people rushed to join them too. But the problem with all of these networks was the lack of authentication. Any Tom, Dick and Harry Spammer could join them.

Then Facebook was created and it required a form of authentication. Targeted at college students, your identity was proven by matching your registered e-mail address and other details with what was in your school's records. How this was done, I'm not sure, but it was. And everyone enjoyed this new level of security. We believed that you were who you said you were.

Facebook grew and grew. And it expanded overseas. And then a new problem arose: it was difficult to authenticate non-U.S. students. Anyway, non-students were joining too. Authentication became a hurdle and...

Well, now any Tom, Dick and Harry Spammer can join Facebook too.

Facebook used to be the only social network where I put my real photo, my real name and a couple of real details. Comforted by its authentication mechanism, I was willing to take the risk to reveal more about myself openly, because only "real" people could join it.

But not any more. I've since replaced my photo with my usual "South Park" avatar. And I'm waiting for Facebook to approve the change of my name (a process that is less humorous than it sounds). All because I can no longer trust that the other Facebook users are not spammers.

My doubts had been lingering below the surface for a while, but it was only recently that they exploded. I was browsing through some networks and found suspiciously named users. Facebook recognises "illegal" names for the most part. Human ingenuity ensures that we can come up with countless permutations of such names.

One more thing: you no longer need to use a university's e-mail address to register yourself. To prove that, I created a new Facebook account with a Yahoo e-mail address using a fake name. Any spammer can create a Yahoo account, which means any spammer can join Facebook. And that spammer can hide behind a fake name too.

Thus, I've lost faith in Facebook. I've already amended my security settings so that only my friends can view my details. Everyone else pretty much gets my blank profile page. And I only approve friends whom I've met in real life. If I don't recall meeting you (even if we really did), I won't add you. It's as simple as that. Anyway, it's not like I'm using it actively. Chances are, I log in only because someone added me as a friend and I want to see who that person is.

Adios, Facebook!



Stu said...

I guess you can say that Facebook has "lost face". :P

I've never even seen the Facebook website, and I still can't think of a reason to to see it.

Yuhui said...

"lost face"...

Haha, Stu, that's a good way of putting it. Can't believe I didn't think of that.

DK said...

Isnt it safe enough after you amended your security settings?

Tym said...

You might appreciate this article on the lack of interoperability between social networking sites: "Cracking Open Social Networks".

Yuhui said...

DK: Yeah, but I still don't know who's on the other side.

Tym: Thanks!

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