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Facebook, MySpace users lie to stay safe online

Thirty-one percent of users of social-networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Friends Reunited and Bebo say that they've entered false information, because they're so worried about the safety of their data. It makes a change from lying to look cool, if nothing else.

According to a survey conducted by email-research specialists emedia, 62 percent of social-networking site users are considering lying to protect themselves. Which may be no bad thing - it's not that long ago that Sophos conned thousands of Facebook users into divulging personal information to a 'friend' the security firm had made up.

Read the study's original press release here

And the potential danger is huge. Users of sites such as Facebook and MySpace visit them on a frequent basis. Almost half of them (48 percent) admit using these websites at work (which explains why the other half are banned from using Facebook on the job).

A mighty 24 percent of social-networking users log in every day (half of them more frequently still) and up to 45 percent of users log in at least once a week. There's a whole lot of time being wasted out there, and a huge potential honeypot for data thieves.

But no, it's worth it, social networkers are hard at work. Hilariously, the survey indicates that 87 percent of all respondents think social networking sites can be used for 'business purposes'. These include networking (65 percent), exchanging ideas (58 percent), getting advice (44 percent), recruitment (43 percent), research (35 percent) and selling (31 percent). Note to self: maybe the headline should have read: 'Social-networking site users are deluded...'

In response to the survey's findings Andrea Simmons of the British Computer Society said: "As we become citizens of cyberspace and with social networking sites making details of members visible through public search engines, we need to learn how to use privacy settings in better ways and use computers safely."

Good point Andrea. Here's how to maintain your privacy in Facebook.

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