Campaigners ask Facebook to set security benchmark

Privacy campaigners are calling for Facebook to lead the way on security and the protection of social-network users after several of its users were taken in by scam messages.

There have been recent reports that users have received scam messages, which told them to click on links and re-enter password details.

Marcel Cowan, director of direct and digital marketing agency Cowan Group, and chairman of the Internet Advertising Bureau’s e-communication council, says: “As this still-new medium gathers pace, the process needs to be investigated further to make sure legislation protects consumers, and does not just create a wall.”

Users have complained that messages from friends asking them to click links to photos have been scams, and have led to viruses taking over their PC or, in some cases, financial details being stolen.

Toby Stevens, director of lobby group Enterprise Privacy Group, says: “Our problem is that the success of Facebook and similar sites is derived from the ease of putting up new material and the willingness of users to trust each other. This combination has created the social networking phenomenon, but it also provides an ideal environment for fraudsters, who exploit the fact that users will engage in behaviours online that they wouldn’t dream of in the real world.”

Privacy groups say that social networks should not isolate their user base by introducing regulations, but instead ensure users are educated about security threats in a comprehensive way.

Facebook currently does this through its security pages, but Cowan says: “They are simply too difficult to find and understand how to use.”

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