Facebook, Under Fire for Privacy Concerns, Launches New Security Feature

Facebook, Under Fire for Privacy Concerns, Launches New Security Feature

Given the storm of bad press and user revolts Facebook has been suffering since announcing their “Open Graph” feature to better spread its data across the web, it’s rather puzzling that the company would announce an unrelated new security feature. But, announce it they did. With well-known tech pundit and podcaster Leo Laporte deleting his Facebook account on-the-air, Facebook has announced a new security method that ties your account to certain known computers and devices.

Similar to a method already in-use by most U.S. banking entities, Facebook will recognize computers and devices you typically log-in with, however when an unknown device attempts to log-in, you will be required to answer a challenge-response question to verify your identity. Facebook users will be able to approve which computers and mobile devices are allowed to log-in, and when an unauthorized attempt occurs, an email or text message will alert the user of the unauthorized access attempt.

While this heightened security is certainly unique in the social networking world, it does nothing to address the serious privacy issues being expressed about how Facebook data is being extended and used by unknown and potentially untrustworthy third-party web sites. Even Congress is getting involved, with four Democratic senators calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider the recent changes in its privacy settings and asking the Federal Trade Commission to streamline guidelines regarding privacy on all social networks.

After the jump, I describe how to activate Facebook’s new authorized device/log-in notification feature, so read on if you’d like to try it for yourself.

If you’re interested in locking down your Facebook account using the new authorized device feature, you’ll need to delve into the maze of account settings while logged in. In the upper-right of your Facebook page, click on “Account” and then “Account Settings.” Scroll down the next screen to “Account Security” and click “change.” Facebook will then ask you, “Would you like to receive notifications for logins from new devices?” Click “yes” and then click “submit” to save this change.

A Facebook programmer, Lev Popov elaborates on the new change in one of his blog posts.

We’re confident that these new tools and systems will do a lot to prevent unauthorized logins and the nuisance they can cause. As always, though, the first line of defense is you. We need you to help by practicing safe behavior on Facebook and wherever you go online.

While I agree that better security is always a good thing, I’m curious why this feature isn’t activated by default. I can’t be the only person to think it should be.

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