Facebook, the enormously popular social networking site, has had periodic controversies over how data is shared, and to what extent the sites users can control that sharing. It has also, recently, become a prime target for various phishing and other scams. The company has responded by beefing up some security features; earlier this year, for example, it introduced a facility allowing users to require the use of secure connections (SSL/TLS) for their accounts. Facebook has now released a security guide [PDF] for its users, called Own Your Space, which attempts in a relatively concise form (13 pages) to explain something of the security landscape, defining terms like “phishing” and “clickjacking”, and to explain the mechanics of Facebook’s security system.
Some of the security advice is quite basic: you should only accept “Friend” requests from people you actually know. Duh. But the advice the guide gives is, on the whole, good, and it is written in straightforward, non-technical language, which I hope will make it accessible to a wide audience. And much of its advice is applicable, not just to Facebook, but to most uses of the Internet.
Facebook, of course, would cease to be a viable business if its users did not share lots of information with each other; as I’ve remarked before, Facebook’s users are not its customers, but its product. (The advertisers are the customers.) But, for that sharing to continue, its users have to have some confidence that they are not thereby exposing themselves to all manner of Bad Things. So I think releasing the guide is in the best interest of both Facebook and its users, and I commend Facebook for doing it.