Entries in personal information (2)


Facebook Users Unwittingly Share More Personal Information, Study Finds

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(PITTSBURGH) -- Facebook users may try to guard their privacy, but they're unwittingly sharing more personal information online than ever, according to a seven-year study from Carnegie Mellon University.

As the social network made changes to its user interface and settings, the study found people were more likely to share additional private information with friends and a group the researchers call the "silent listeners."

The silent listeners include Facebook, third-party app developers, and advertisers.

The researchers used data from 5,076 Facebook users in the university's network to study how privacy and disclosure evolved from 2005 until 2011.

The study reflects Facebook's shift from being a public place to one that is increasingly private, where users can carefully choose their audience, said Jules Polonetsky, director and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum, who is not affiliated with the study.

"More people are being more active, but they're doing it in a way that allows them to interact more directly with the audience they intend to," he told ABC News.

From 2005 to 2009, users decreased the amount of information they shared publicly, according to the study. There was, however, a turnaround in December 2009 when Facebook changed its default settings, the study said.

Researchers said the 2009 uptick was likely caused by people being confused as to how to navigate the new settings.

In 2011, when Facebook introduced its timeline layout, people were presented with more data fields and encouraged to fill out a personal history that included milestones in their lives, such as getting engaged or buying a house.

"When Facebook started out, it was a very public place. Most of us joined regional networks and anything you did, including your pictures and updates were available to everyone in the network," Polonetsky said.

"I think the study shows Facebook users have reached a reasonable equilibrium of there is far less data being shared publicly and much more interactions with your friends, which is a pretty good thing," he said.

Researchers said the study's results, which focused on a data set "dominated by undergraduate students," might not extend to a more diverse sample of users.

A Facebook spokesman told ABC News the company was aware of the study.

"Independent research has verified that the vast majority of the people on Facebook are engaging with and using our straightforward and powerful privacy tools -- allowing them to control what they're sharing, and with whom they're sharing," a spokesman said in an email.

In an unrelated study, Facebook data scientists reported the average post was seen by one-third of a user's Facebook friends.

Researchers studied 222,000 Facebook users' posts last June and found that over the course of the month, people reached 61 percent of their friends.

But the study also found social media users underestimate their reach -- guessing their audience is just 27 percent of its true size.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Group Brags Sony Easy to Hack

AFP/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Whoever the hackers at LulzSec are, they talk big. They claim to have gotten into the files of Sony Pictures Entertainment and stolen information on more than 1 million consumers. They claim they defaced the website of the PBS NewsHour as a protest against a Frontline documentary on WikiLeaks. And they say they're not done yet.

"We accessed EVERYTHING," said the group on a website it advertised on Twitter. It claimed it compromised "passwords, email addresses, home addresses, dates of birth and all Sony opt-in data associated with their accounts. Among other things, we also compromised all admin details of Sony Pictures (including passwords) along with 75,000 'music codes' and 3.5 million 'music coupons.'"

"Why do you put such faith in a company that allows itself to become open to these simple attacks?" said the message on the site. The website was registered only on Wednesday with an address in the Bahamas, according to an ABC News search of Internet registries. Security consultants said LulzSec's claims seemed genuine, and phone numbers posted on the site turned out to be authentic.

Sony issued a statement on Friday saying: "We have confirmed that a breach has occurred and have taken action to protect against further intrusion," it said. "We also retained a respected team of experts to conduct the forensic analysis of the attack, which is ongoing."

Security consultants said the attack probably wasn't really aimed at those million Sony customers.

"If they're stealing passwords to do something bad, they're not going to announce it," said Kevin Haley, director of security response at Symantec, the computer-security firm. "But it's definitely a good idea to change your passwords."

For Sony, though -- and other companies hit by so-called "hactivists" -- the consequences could be much more serious. "Sony desperately needs to get their security act together," said Rob Enderle, an information-technology consultant, in an email to ABC News. "This could (with connected litigation and government response) effectively put them out of business."

The company is still trying to recover from an attack in April on its PlayStation video game network -- which had 77 million online accounts worldwide. Sony was forced to shut the network down and rebuild it, a process that took weeks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio