In a recent interview, Glenn Greenwald was asked why his colleague Edward Snowden has no social media presence – on Facebook, for instance. Greenwald told his Canadian audience, “he doesn’t use Facebook because he hates Facebook. They’re one of the worst violators of privacy in history. Nobody should use Facebook.”

 

Glenn Greenwald claims that nobody should use Facebook. (abcnews.com)

Glenn Greenwald claims that nobody should use Facebook. (abcnews.com)

Snowden himself has spoken out against Facebook in the past. In an interview with the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, he said the following about Facebook and similar websites: “They’ve made strides to increase the security of their programs, and they’re getting better than they have been, but they’re still not safe. These are dangerous services, and you need to use alternatives that are better encrypted.”

 

Information from Facebook profiles makes identity theft easier than ever. By creating a false, yet believable profile, a criminal can friend request a target and obtain access to a considerable amount of information. This information can then be used to exploit the target’s unprotected identity.

 

Facebook currently has over one billion active users, so one shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss concerns about privacy as being paranoid or overcautious. Some privacy concerns can be avoided directly by users; for instance, you should avoid accepting strange friend requests, and disclosing too much information (e.g., date of birth, e-mail address, family information). Other issues, though, are out of the user’s control.

 

Governments around the world have asked Facebook for information about tens of thousands of individuals. More than half of these requests took place in the United States.

 

To truly protect your identity, it may be best to follow Snowden’s advice and delete your Facebook account. The existence of an archive of the personal information of over one billion people that can be stolen remotely is a cause for alarm.

 

Do you feel safe on Facebook? Respond below or on Twitter @ryanlawlessness