Are the Feds Facebook-stalking you?

A Boston reader reports mystery Facebook logins from Washington DC, some 450 miles away. Are spooks secretly logging into her account?

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Translation: Facebook makes its best guess based on your device’s Internet Protocol address. If you’re using a mobile device to log in, the guesses it makes often aren’t very good.

It turns out that the locations that were most off for both Najia and myself were those made from mobile devices – specifically her iPhone and my iPad. So that’s one less mystery left to solve.

It seems that while Facebook does indeed track locations for its nearly 1 billion users, it doesn’t do a very good job of it. That’s either good news or bad, depending on your perspective.

The good news is a) you’re probably not being Facebook-stalked by the Feds, and b) because Facebook location data isn’t really reliable, it shouldn’t be used in a legal context – ie, to prove you were or weren’t in a particular location if that ever comes up in a legal dispute (and the way things are going, it very well might).

The bad news? Your Facebook location data might be used anyway, because local authorities don’t understand how wrong it can be (and they don’t read TY4NS). In that case, bad location information could come back to bite you by suggesting you were some place you weren’t supposed to be, or you weren’t where you claimed to be.

As I’ve said a few times before, location data is the newest and scariest privacy quagmire. It can and will be used against you, even when it’s not remotely accurate.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and  Facebook.

Now read this:

Facebook's 'man in the middle' attack on our data

Making Facebook private won't protect you

How to keep hackers out of your Google, Facebook, and Twitter accounts

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