Analysis of publicly disclosed information in Facebook profiles

Article, Preprint English OPEN
Farahbakhsh, Reza ; Han, Xiao ; Cuevas, Angel ; Crespi, Noel (2017)

Facebook, the most popular Online social network is a virtual environment where users share information and are in contact with friends. Apart from many useful aspects, there is a large amount of personal and sensitive information publicly available that is accessible to external entities/users. In this paper we study the public exposure of Facebook profile attributes to understand what type of attributes are considered more sensitive by Facebook users in terms of privacy, and thus are rarely disclosed, and which attributes are available in most Facebook profiles. Furthermore, we also analyze the public exposure of Facebook users by accounting the number of attributes that users make publicly available on average. To complete our analysis we have crawled the profile information of 479K randomly selected Facebook users. Finally, in order to demonstrate the utility of the publicly available information in Facebook profiles we show in this paper three case studies. The first one carries out a gender-based analysis to understand whether men or women share more or less information. The second case study depicts the age distribution of Facebook users. The last case study uses data inferred from Facebook profiles to map the distribution of worldwide population across cities according to its size.
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