Facebook Friends – Can You Really Trust Them?

Facebook Friends Trust

Daniel Offer is the creator of the Facebook software and Facebook Blackberry app “Chit Chat”. Within his app, Daniel has to think about third party security when users are making use of his Facebook messaging software.

In this article, Daniel will discuss some of the current security concerns regarding Facebook- particularly privacy. He will also provide some examples on some possible security related situations that may arise while using Facebook.

If you would like some more information on managing your privacy on Facebook, please see my tutorial on managing Facebook’s new privacy features.

Keeping Your Facebook Friends Updated

Picture this, it’s an average Friday morning at work and you’ve just grabbed your Mocha – complete with two helpings of sugar.  You’re sitting down at your work computer at 8:45 for a 9am start. You’ve got fifteen minutes to ‘kill’ before you officially have to start work, as per usual  you find yourself surfing over to Facebook to check out your friends feeds.
Facebook Status Privacy
You update your status – “Friday finally, can’t wait for my trip to New York this weekend!

Now, let me ask you this. Who is able to read that Facebook status message? Probably more people than you think.
Facebook Has Become Ubiquitous . But Is Everyone 100% Trustworthy? Probably Not.

Facebook profiles have become so ubiquitous that, like finger nails, almost everyone has them. As such, you’ve probably found yourself receiving friend requests from parents, child hood friends, work colleagues, gym friends, school, university friends and even acquaintances you’ve met on a night out .

Unfortunately, there is somewhat a culture of “in or out” with regards to Facebook friends – you either fully trust them, or you don’t “add them.”
And well, let’s be honest, despite all Facebook’s security features, do you really have the time or inclination to go through all your old Facebook friends regularly to determine how much you trust them? I know I don’t.

Even with Facebook’s new list feature, it’s still not a perfect separation.
I run a popular Facebook messaging application called Chit Chat and I tend to find that users try to add me as Facebook friends. We tend to trust those in authority, which is where I’ve put myself with my Facebook software. However, as Rupert Murdock has shown us recently, trust can often be misplaced.

Whilst it’s great to be able to communicate with your friends and express yourself, which is the opportunity that Facebook provides us with, how many of those hundreds of Facebook friends do you really know – and more importantly totally trust?

How well do you know these people – your Facebook friends?

Would you trust them with your beer? Your car keys?  Your house? Your Facebook Password?

Facebook Trust – Who Are You Trusting With Your Information?

Burglaries have become somewhat of a classic example of a crime that has been committed as a result of your Facebook status.  Indeed, the Daily Mail posted an excellent article regarding the correlation between Facebook Places reporting your current location online and burglary.

Wowever, it’s not just about your location. When you share information, particularly on Facebook it may be wise to consider the different types of trust:
Facebook Friends Trust

  • Information Distribution
  • Would your Facebook “friends” use the information you post on Facebook against you?

    Whether you’d consider this right or wrong, a friend of mine was in hot water with his girlfriend after he was “tagged” in a number of photos with another girl on a “lads holiday.”

  • Privacy
  • How much do you want your work colleagues to know about your social life?

  • Security
  • How much should you trust the links sent by your friends? Are they “tech savvy”?

  • Car Keys Test
  • Could you trust all your Facebook friends with your car keys or wallet?


My point being, is that there are different types of trust. We trust different people to different extents at different times depending on the situation.

For example, whilst I would trust my one of my best friends with my car keys or wallet, I wouldn’t trust him with his own internet security. So, when I get messages from friends with links like, “Wow – click here”, I tend to be slightly skeptical, and verify with the friend that they have actually sent the link.

Because users have to be increasingly concerned with what they post on Facebook, there are many instances where Facebook and social media can actually increase personal accountability by making users more accountable of their online actions.

Whilst a Facebook post may be directed at just a small group of people, it’s communication is much larger.  Unless you’re actively using Facebook lists, which is cumbersome, chances are you’re communicating much more widely than you have intended to.

To illustrate the points made, let me give you a few examples based on my own experiences:

Two people from school that I knew quite well were convicted of criminal offenses. The first was blackmail and the second was burglary. Both of them “added me” on Facebook however, whilst I knew them as school friends – several years later, should I add them on Facebook just because I knew them in high school?

The fact is, people change over time.

So, let me ask you one final question – are your Facebook friends still who you think they are?

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