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Backdoor On Facebook for People to Gain Access to Pictures?
internetheaven




msg:3992137
 12:40 pm on Sep 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

I thought that the "friends" only option on photo albums on Facebook meant that only your friends can view them. YOUR friends, the people in YOUR friends list.

But, if one of our friends tags one of our photos - all of THEIR friends can then view the entire album.

Is that standard Facebook practice or is there some sort of glitch?

We have a 2-year-old daughter and a worldwide-spread family. We were never keen on uploading pictures of her to the web but her grandparents, aunties, cousins etc. etc. never get to see her and are interested in her development.

From reading the instructions on friends only options on Facebook we thought it would be an okay way to keep control of who sees the images. We didn't realise it meant friends of friends of friends of friends ...

 

rogerd




msg:3992176
 3:39 pm on Sep 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Is that really the case, all you Facebook experts? If so, is there a workaround?

internetheaven




msg:3992194
 4:29 pm on Sep 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Seems so, we just tested it by getting a friend of a friend (who is obviously not one of our friends) to block their album. Our friend then commented on it. Sure enough, now we can see the whole album by clicking on the link that shows up on our home page of our friends comments.

whoisgregg




msg:3993444
 1:51 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's the case. The tagging feature is specifically designed to associate photos to the account of anyone "in the photo." You can tag any photo with any friend's name and it shows up in that person's photos. Any of their friend's can then see the photo. In most situations, this is a great and useful feature as it lets the owner of the photograph and the subjects of the photograph all "have" the photo.

If so, is there a workaround?

Don't post private pictures on the internet.

To be clear, I'm not trying to be snarky... If you don't want people to see a particular photo, don't provide it in a digital format. Even if you email it, a proud grandmother may post that picture of her granddaughter to Facebook to show off to her friends.

Social networks are for sharing, not for keeping things private. Get some paper prints made up and snail mail them to the relatives.

httpwebwitch




msg:3993552
 4:40 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

This is the way facebook works. Anyone can potentially see anything - all you need is a friend-of-a-friend to expose it by tagging, commenting, etc.

Usually, it's a good thing. I've seen and laughed at and appreciated things that my friends have shared that come originally from complete strangers. I've even found & reconnected with and made new friendships that way.

I ditto whoisgregg. Facebook has taken some baby steps to protect privacy in some obvious ways, but they are not ABOUT privacy, they are about sharing and broadcasting. It's an extrovert's paradise. Private things should never be posted to Facebook, ever.

internetheaven




msg:3993578
 5:20 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Private things should never be posted to Facebook, ever.

Then why mislead people by having a "show your friends only" option when that is not how it works.

This is the way facebook works.

Facebook Question when creating an album:

"Who can see this?"

Answer I gave:

"Only friends."

So ... "that is how facebook works" ... hmmmm ... you must understand that question and answer process completely different from me. I read "only friends" as meaning "only friends" ... not "friends of friends" ... which is an other option I could of selected.

So they offer 2 options but they mean the same ... how stupid of me! Thank you for clearing that up ...

Social networks are for sharing, not for keeping things private.

Some sort of "big picture" thinking there? Again, can't believe I was so stupid as to think that a company offering an option to only show pictures to friends would absolutely have no intention of providing the feature they are offering. I'm sure if I asked a lawyer about it they would be just as "big picture" about it --

Well, I'm sorry, but a company that states a particular feature in relation to privacy has no obligation to provide that feature, they can make up anything they like and then completely do the opposite.

Yep, I'm sure that's what they would say ... and so would the thousands of other people that thought that "only friends" was a totally different option from "friends of friends". We all need to focus on the big picture like you - it's a social network, any option could be complete lie.

whoisgregg




msg:3993607
 5:49 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Facebook privacy settings are a complicated animal.

The guts of it though is that your privacy settings are only applied to the photo as it's associated to your account.

Once someone is tagged however, that photo becomes associated to that person's account, too. Then that person's account privacy setting for "Photos Tagged of You" determines visibility of that photo when linked from their profile. That person has two choices to hide a tagged photo. They can remove the tag (disassociating it from their account) or they can change the privacy setting of all "Photos Tagged of You." Not ideal.

Facebook's concept seems to be "anyone in a picture gets to decide how the photo is used."

This concept works most of the time but it's definitely a different point of view than the American legal concept that "the photographer of a picture gets to decide how the photo is used." Facebook still extends the ability for the original poster to remove a picture though, and it will disappear from all associated accounts.

Clearly, some finer grained control over tagged photos would be nice, as would applying all upstream privacy settings to the photo no matter who's account it is associated with.

I agree that Facebook's approach is confusing and they could do a better job of presenting it. The core lesson though is that Facebook is for sharing. Anything private is better posted elsewhere, if at all.

The only other workaround I can think of is to add a note asking people not to tag the photo.

arieng




msg:3993616
 5:55 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

That person has two choices to hide a tagged photo. They can remove the tag (disassociating it from their account) or they can change the privacy setting of all "Photos Tagged of You." Not ideal.

How about setting up an account for your daughter and changing the privacy settings on her account? Not ideal, but might be an effective workaround.

whoisgregg




msg:3993617
 5:57 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm not actually defending Facebook, I'm just attempting to clarify how their site actually works. I agree that they've done a poor job describing photo privacy, tagging, and the ways which the two interact that can easily lead to unintended consequences.

We all need to focus on the big picture like you - it's a social network, any option could be complete lie.

I believe there are different degrees of required confidence in a service. If I only post things I don't care if the world sees, built-in privacy features don't actually matter.

However, if I'm going to post a photo or identifying details of a child, I would assume the claimed privacy features are a complete lie. The risk is much greater, so I would test the service before uploading any sensitive data.

internetheaven




msg:3993659
 7:13 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

so I would test the service before uploading any sensitive data

We did. Whilst you seem to know all about this, anyone signing up to and using Facebook will be just as in the dark until a stranger says "cute daughter" to them ...

We have been very, very specific about the people we allow as friends - i.e. just family members who want to keep track. Other family members posting their pics have expected the same OFFERED privacy of "only friends". We discovered this problem only this week - after months of oblivious usage.

We're all very shocked and as of today, six people in our family group have removed all their photos and two have deleted their accounts completely.

Facebook is not the only way to stay in touch! It just seemed a simple, safe, easy way - boy were we wrong! And you can sit back smugly and say "well, we knew this ... already" - we didn't, and there was absolutely no way to know about it until it happened to us.

The core lesson though is that Facebook is for sharing.

I'd like to call your attention to Facebooks slogans on the entry page.

"Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life."

"Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them."

"People use Facebook to keep up with friends"

None of those suggest to me a free-for-all where everyone has access to everyone else's information. There is not a single tag line saying "P.S. complete strangers can get access to everything you post as well, not just your friends despite all the pictures and slogans saying otherwise ..."

I don't think me, my family or most other people now finding out about this problem saw Facebook as a place where their "only friends" pictures would be shared with everyone they didn't know.

rogerd




msg:3993715
 8:46 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

I do see how a casual user would likely assume that friends of friends wouldn't have access to photos.

This is particularly risky to one's privacy when some Facebook users befriend anyone and everyone they encounter, no matter how trivial the connection. On Twitter, I often see appeals from random users who publish their Facebook page and exhort viewers to "add me!"

mack




msg:3993717
 8:52 pm on Sep 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

I spent some time looking into Facebook's settings and they sure aren't all together user friendly. One point that stood out was tagged photos. On my account it was set to friends of friends, so if a friend tagged him/her self in one of my images it would be visible to their friends. The fact that it has been claimed to make the entire album visible does tend to undermine the privacy settings you have in place.

I think this is indeed a backdoor, and one that Facebook will need to address.

Mack.

marcel




msg:3997185
 6:07 pm on Sep 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

How about setting up an account for your daughter and changing the privacy settings on her account? Not ideal, but might be an effective workaround.

I tried exactly this for my newborn son, but I could not create an account because of his birth date (july of this year)

FourDegreez




msg:3998911
 10:09 pm on Sep 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

One thing I would note is, I've noticed I am able to see non-friends' pictures when one of my friends has *commented* on it. So, my friend is not even tagged in the picture. But having commented on it opened the picture up for me to view. I didn't have to look, either. Facebook shows me such pics on the right side of my screen.

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