Have a Facebook account? Then you’ve probably heard of Farmville, Mafia Wars, Zoo World, and other online games, whether you play them or hate them. If you haven’t, your kids have probably heard of them. These applications have tens of thousands of online fans.
Tried to play these games recently? Upon logging in, you’ve probably spotted something a little bit different. Many of these games now require you to provide your email address in order to keep playing. Blogger Deb Manzella has recently been drawing attention to this shady behavior, and for good reason.
Farmville and Zoo World aren’t the only Facebook applications requiring users to provide personal details before playing. Today, almost anything you install from Facebook will ask for permission to draw details from your profile and your friends list. Though many of these games tell users that this information is required in order for the application to work correctly, this is not always the case.
In addition, Facebook also has the ability to sync with the address book linked to your email address to suggest people for you to friend. Blogger Manzella said that thanks to this feature of Facebook, the site suggested that she “friend” her plumber and the paralegal working for her divorce lawyer. Though this may seem innocuous, such links provide important clues for identity thieves.
When taken together, all of these ways for Facebook and the games offered through the site to collect your personal information present a real danger. Not only that, but users themselves post personal details to their own Facebook pages. The site has become a huge database containing the personal information of millions of members worldwide.
If identity thieves can find away to get to this information, you can bet that they will do so. By using applications like Farmville, your personal information becomes widely shared. If you want to protect this information from identity thieves, the best thin to do is avoid signing up for these online games. No matter how fun they look, it is not worth the risk.
Avoiding these applications isn’t enough to protect your information when it comes with Facebook. Also be aware of how much information you’re sharing and who you “friend” on Facebook. Avoid connecting with those who have a professional relationship to you, even if you are also friends. If you do decide to cast your social net wider, remove personal information such as your address, date of birth, and email address, from your profile. Set your privacy settings so that those who aren’t your friends cannot access personal information about you. Otherwise, identity thieves may use the information you post – from your place of employment to your plans for Friday night – against you.
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