The dangers of posting sensitive personal information on social-networking sites are well known, but a researcher has now revealed how data mining these sites can dig up undisclosed personal information.
On Wednesday, in a presentation at the Black Hat computer-security conference in Las Vegas, Nitesh Dhanjani detailed how the information posted on social websites like Facebook and Twitter can be mined to find out a person’s whereabouts and activities.
Dhanjani showed data-collection programs that can be created using the programming tools released by such sites. For instance, he showed how to track the movements of politicians and celebrities using Twitter, by mining the service for relevant geographical information. Earlier this year, Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra was criticized for posting information on Twitter that revealed his location while traveling in Iraq.
From behind their bedroom doors, more than 1 out of every 10 teenagers has posted a nude or seminude picture of themselves or others online – a “digital tattoo” that could haunt them for the rest of their lives, according to a poll being released today.
Aside from the nudity, the survey also found that at least a quarter of the young people polled had posted something they later regretted, made fun of others or created a false identity online.
While teens are spending more and more time on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace – with 22 percent saying they check their sites more than 10 times a day – they don’t seem to be aware of the long-term personal havoc they could create with a click of a button.
And their parents generally have little idea about what their children are up to, the poll found.
After failing to acquire Twitter last fall, Facebook went shopping for what may be the next best thing.
On Aug. 10, Facebook said it had acquired FriendFeed, the Mountain View (Calif.) social aggregation service founded by Google (GOOG) alumni Bret Taylor and Jim Norris in 2008. The deal, which The Wall Street Journal reported to be valued at nearly $50 million in cash and stock, gives Facebook top talent and advanced technology in an area many see as the next great frontier on the Web: real-time search.
FriendFeed, the social-identity aggregator that never seemed to gain much market share beyond early adopters, is suddenly hitched to one of the biggest digital growth engines: Facebook. Marketers and consumers have a lot to cheer about Facebook’s acquisition.
After a late 2008 growth spurt, FriendFeed’s audience leveled off, according to Compete data, hitting 902,000 unique visitors in January 2009 and attracting 918,000 in July 2009. During the same span in 2009, Compete says Facebook added 54 million U.S. visitors. That growth has led a lot of marketers to ignore FriendFeed, and it’s hard to blame them for fishing where the fish are.