Another reason to be careful what you post on Facebook: All it takes is a simple Google search, and phishers and marketers can glean a treasure trove of private information based on relationships among Facebook "friends," according to new research.
Researchers from the U.K.'s University of Cambridge recently published a paper (PDF) detailing a project in which they developed a software tool to correlate and map Facebook profiles they found via public search engines, such as Google, to build detailed maps of relationships among Facebook members.
"We focused on inferring information about a whole social graph...lists of every person and the connections between them," such as group memberships they had in common or geographic ties, says Joseph Bonneau, one of the project's researchers.
Bonneau says marketers typically look online for the "best-connected" people who can influence others, so this type of information could be used to target them. And phishers or identity thieves could capitalize on this data, as well, according to the Cambridge research.
"You could do targeted phishing attacks if you knew people's [Facebook] friends and claim to be their friend," Bonneau says.