January 10, 2012, 12:17 PM — Concerned about the security of your Facebook account? You should be. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, “social spam” is the new black among the blackhats. But that doesn’t mean you should believe every silly rumor and/or status update you see about it.
Lately I’ve been seeing the following status update crop up on the walls of some of my otherwise savvy friends:
Hello friends, as you all know I like to keep my FB private except to those I am friends with. So if you all would do the following, I'd appreciate it. With the new FB timeline on its way this week for EVERYONE, please do both of us a favor. Hover over my name above. In a few seconds you'll see a box that says : "Subscribed". Hover over that, then go to "comments and likes" and unclick it. That will stop my posts and yours to me from showing up on the bar side for everyone to see, but most importantly it limits hackers from invading our profiles. If you repost this I will do the same for you. You'll know I've acknowledged you because if you tell me that you've done it I'll "like" it.
This is, of course, donkey manure. It is yet another hoax some dork without a life started propagating across Facebook a few weeks or months ago. It’s harmless, but it is also full of misinformation. To wit:
First: Though Timeline will be rolled out to all Facebook users sometime soon, I think the privacy concerns are overblown. Unless you have a dark Facebook history you’re trying to hide, there’s no cause for alarm (and if you do have a dark Facebook history, you’ve got bigger problems than Timeline).
Second: Yes, you can follow the instructions to manage what you subscribe to and from whom. But all you’ll achieve is banishing your friends’ likes and comments from your News Ticker. Period, full stop. You’ll still see their posts in your News Feed or on their walls; it does nothing – nada, zilch, squat – to protect you from hackers.
You want to protect yourself from being hacked? Do this.
* Make sure you’ve enabled Secure Browsing. That uses an encrypted (https) connection instead of the standard one, which scrambles your data so that creep sitting behind you in Starbucks can’t use Firesheep or a similar network sniffer to steal your Facebook logon out of the air.