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02/13/2004 Archived Entry: "Are your Networking-mad friends "outing" you?"

ARE YOUR NETWORKING-MAD FRIENDS COMPROMISING YOUR PRIVACY AND SECURITY? A while back I linked to an article that pointed out that it's really pretty foolish to share vast amounts of information about yourself with "social networking" sites like Friendster.

Now, from the Vetzine e-list comes a much more ominous article. This one points out, among other things, that some networking sites are actually encouraging your foolish friends to "out" you to marketers and other snoops. One, Plaxo, urges its members to upload their entire Outlook or Outlook Express address book to its servers. Yep -- upload your name, e-mail address, physical address, work address, home phone, cell phone, work phone, fax, and whatever other descriptive information your not-so-good friend might keep about you in that versatile little e-book.

I keep nothing but e-mail addresses in my book (and it's not an Outlook book, in any case), but I opened it up just now and noticed there's a big comments section where, if I were even more of an idiot than I occasionally am, I could list your birthday, your tastes in music, the drugs you like, the names of your kids, the license number of your vehicle, your sexual kinks -- or darned near anything else I knew about you.

I'd never heard of Plaxo. When I went there to check out that claim, I discovered that not only does it want your friends to upload and update all their address-book info -- but that seems to be Plaxo's sole reason for existence. Bleah! People you know may be doing this to you without your knowledge or consent!

The news about these networking site gets even worse. Read the article. Then if you find out anybody's done this to you, rip 'em a new one. And rip 'em an extra one for me.

Posted by Claire @ 03:03 PM CST

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