What you type on social media may be seen, posted or not
January 13, 2014

Most people know that any information they share on social media will be recorded, tracked and potentially compromised in case of a security breach. Sites like Facebook record practically everything their users post and, even if users later delete their data, social networks will often hold onto it. For some individuals, this will lead to more cautious sharing, and sometimes members may start creating a message, only to reconsider the action and delete it before finishing it. 

What you don't say may be used against you
The trouble is that even if you don't post something on a social media network, it still may be recorded by the website. Your every keystroke may be filed and logged, all without you knowing. If you almost reveal sensitive information online, then have second thoughts and erase your work before finishing it, you may still be at risk of someone discovering whatever you thought would remain secret. These were the findings of Facebook researchers, Sauvik Das of Carnegie Mellon and data scientist Adam Kramer, according to Naked Security. 

During the course of 17 days, the two collected information on self-censored data from Facebook users and used code to determine if anything was written in the status update box or similar interfaces, but that wasn't posted. The pair did not study the number of characters entered or details of users' posts, but they did discover that Facebook could know when content was entered at all. It's possible that the site isn't recording deleted information, but it likely does know when members begin writing a message, only to reconsider the action and stop. 

Naked Security noted that key logging isn't new, but reminding people about their existence is potentially more crucial than ever in the age of information and widespread social sharing. The news source noted that this capability exists in JavaScript itself, which forms much of the backbone of the Web and enables services like Gmail and Facebook. Facebook may not only be noting key strokes, but it has also contemplated tracking where someone points their cursor, another Naked Security article reported. These methods can enable advertisers to more effectively target their marketing efforts, but should someone access this data, it could also be used for fraud or other damaging acts. 

With any website conceivably performing these actions, users should take care with what and where they type. The news provider suggested that browser plugins that prevent certain scripts from running can prevent this, but regardless, individuals should take care with how they treat their online identity. 

The continuing conflict between social media and privacy
This yet again showcases some of the privacy issues with social media. Although the sites have their purpose, users should rightly be worried about how well their identities are being protected by these services. With some organizations turning toward social sign in methods to streamline the online registration process, individuals should again be reminded about some of the risks associated with Facebook, Twitter and similar services. Compromised data might not only reveal what members posted and later deleted, but details that never lived beyond the frantic pressing of "Backspace." 

Because of this, businesses and individuals alike should seek out more secure online authentication methods that are sensitive to user privacy and that won't record and store potentially embarrassing or damaging information that was never intended to be seen by anyone. Caution can reduce the chance of private data leaking to the Web, but even that has its limitations.