Socialbots can steal personal data on Facebook, claims research

Facebook has refuted claims and raised questions of how ethical the research is

Recent research has claimed 'socialbots' are stealing personal data on Facebook by posing as fake friends, while Facebook claims the research is overstated and unethical

A new method that can steal personal information from Facebook has been revealed to be socialbots, claim researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Socialbots are computer programs which mimic real Facebook profiles, with users who have more Facebook friends more likely to allow the fake profile into their friends list.

However, Facebook has hit back against these claims by saying the conditions of the research were unrealistic as the IP addresses for the socialbots came from a trusted university source, and had disabled many of the fake accounts created, more than the research team claimed.

"We have serious concerns about the methodology of the research by the University of British Colombia and we will be putting these concerns to them," said a Facebook spokesperson. The social network added that it also encourages people to report any suspicious behaviour on the website.

The research team sent out 102 socialbots to make friends on the social network for eight weeks, and sent only 25 requests a day to avoid detection. Out of 8,570 users, 3,055 accepted the friend request from the socialbots.

The team will present its findings next month at the Annual Computer Security Applicatins Conference in Florida.

Have you ever reported suspicious activity on Facebook? Let us know if you did and why.

Via: BBC