One in four Facebook users is at risk

Nearly one in four Facebook users is exposing personal information to strangers, a survey has found.

The study, carried out by US non-profit group Consumer Reports, revealed that 23 per cent of Facebook users either hadn’t implemented or didn’t know how to use the site’s privacy controls.

Forty-two per cent of users questioned said they left their full date of birth visible to strangers on the site, while 26 per cent of adults said they had posted photos and descriptions containing the full names of their children.

Seven per cent of those asked said they provided their full postal address on the site, and three per cent admitted to letting other users know when they were away from home.

The report, entitled ‘Social Insecurity’, also criticised the complicated process users had to follow to opt out of revealing their data, saying: “Facebook continues to launch new services that require users to take often-confusing, multiple-step measures to re-implement the privacy they thought they already had.”

The findings come after two weeks in which Facebook’s privacy policies have come under intense scrutiny. Only yesterday, a flaw was revealed in the network’s chat facility that exposed personal information, and required no hacking expertise.

Last week, the company was forced to respond to a call by US senator Charles Schumer for privacy watchdogs in the United States to investigate Facebook’s handling of user information.