HOUSTON -- Digital rights activists say millions of Facebook users are on a list that was being sold online last week. Identity thieves and spammers could use it to take advantage of users’ good names.
According to Bulgairan Bogomil Shopov, the $5-list consisted of more than a million first and last names with e-mail addresses and links to Facebook pages. When Shopov wrote about it on his website and provided evidence of the list’s existence, he said Facebook called him and asked him to take it down. The social network also allegedly asked him how he got his hands on it.
So how was the information obtained? And how can you prevent your name from ending up on one of these lists?
One list was reportedly up for sale on gigbucks.com, which is a popular legitimate website tech-savvy people use to sell their services. The person trying to sell it said it was gathered through Facebook apps and consisted mostly of English-speaking active users.
The good news is usually this kind of data is only used by spammers -- to just send out junk mail. Also, it appeared gigbucks.com removed its copy of the list as soon as it was reported that someone posted it up for sale.
== How to protect yourself ==
1 – Copy the URL (web address) to your Facebook’s main profile page. Log out and then revisit the saved URL to see what search engines and non-Facebook friends can see about you.
2 – Log back into Facebook and go into your privacy settings. Un-list any personal info the public-facing profile, such as your birth date, e-mail address, and cell phone number.
3 – Still in your Facebook settings, check the list of authorized apps. Twitter and Instagram are trusted apps. If you see others you don’t recognize or don’t use anymore, then delete them. Remember: Apps that promise to “track your friends” or show you “crazy videos of a party you were at” are scams and simply out for your data.