Do you get those annoying mails asking you to join up on social networking sites? (Names intentionally left out.) Most are along these lines “Your very special friend Joe Sasquatch has invited you to join the Big Foot community. Please sign-up so you can share your precious and rare photos with your buddies and build a gigantic network of friends.” Hmm… maybe not so annoying if you like a little bit of flattery. All depends on how you take it really. Considering there are literally 100s of social networking sites opening up, I am sure most people must be getting similar emails from time to time. Well, you won’t believe it, in the past two days alone I received 10 such requests. These included requests from former colleagues, friends and some even from distant acquaintances whom I barely know. Some of them were from people with whom I had only briefly interacted with in the past. Maybe just via a couple of emails. Now I know the 10 requests in 2 days maybe purely coincidental but what I like to point out here is the fact that, it made me believe (and rightly so) that somehow those people didn’t always willingly send me those requests.
I have nothing against social networking in general, but I decided to find out more. So I went ahead and began the sign-up procedure on one of those, and there; it asked me for my email and password for that email account. “What the…!” That left me a little stumped. The official reason given was “Automatically link with all your friends”, which is a euphemism for, “We will open your email, go through your address book (and emails), find out who you have communicated with since the dawn of time and then send them invitation request.” Wow! Do you know what just happened here? You could have just given them your email address and password instead. Their spider probably went through ever email and contact you ever had and sent each of them an invitation request on your behalf. Is it just me who sees a problem here? Hell I wouldn’t want someone to send any email on my behalf to every joe and jane I have had contact with! My God that would be a catastrophe 😉 . In simple terms it means, “Dude! Your email and its password is with them.”
OK let me make it clear that this happens on some sites and not all. So the point of this blog entry is to make people aware (, it would seem most aren’t) of what takes place behind the scenes when you fill that little email box and punch in it’s password. Read their privacy statements, no explicit guarantee of safety of your data is made. Your exposed data to any organization could be used to generate a profile of you, your habits and the people you communicate with. Again I am not saying they will or are doing it, I am trying to make everyone aware of what could happen. Fear not, if you have been a victim of this, it’s just a matter of changing the passwords on your email accounts. Do it now. Oh yes and don’t be crazy and use your work email on any of these sites, ever!