While browsing Facebook the other day, I came across an open group that shocked me. The group’s creator had lost his mobile phone and needed to populate his new phone with numbers. So the group was an attempt to ask his mates for their mobile numbers.
The group was available for anyone to browse or join. When I saw the title of the group and its open status, I thought he must be having a laugh if anyone replies. Then I guessed it may be a joke group, set up to tempt people into clicking it.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. Despite being a totally public group, this guy’s phone number was listed in the description of the group, while 20 or so friends of his had happily posted their mobile numbers for anyone to view.
I couldn’t believe that this was taking place on an OPEN group! So when I next went on Facebook, I decided to find the group again and let him know what was going on.
I thought this find was scary enough…
But here’s the even scarier part. I didn’t find this guy’s group when I searched for it. The reason why? Because there are hundreds of public groups all asking for their friend’s phone numbers! And most people are happy to oblige. Huge numbers of personal phone numbers on open groups, available for all to see.
I was amazed at how few of the groups were closed to general viewers and browsers.
Does anyone even realise that this is happening in the open? I mean, it’s bad enough with so many public Facebook profiles containing personal content (and even photos they surely wouldn’t want the public viewing) available for anyone to see. But it’s even worse to see that people can recreate hundreds of people’s phone lists. It disturbed me, anyway.
What’s going on? Are these users unaware of this? Or is privacy a thing of the past? Am I worrying about nothing? What are your thoughts?
[UPDATE: Here is some statistical and analytical insight into personal details and privacy issues surrounding social networking sites…lots of people seem to keep their profiles open.