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Don't let Facebook automatically add your personal info to dating sites

Don't let Facebook automatically add your personal info to dating sites
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

We've all heard our fair share of online dating horror stories, but this one might take the cake.

Imagine opening up your inbox one day to find hundreds of emails from people wanting to date you. Seems great at face value, but what if you're married and never signed up for a dating site in the first place?

That's exactly what's happening to quite a few people in Canada. They are discovering that Facebook can automatically sign them up for dating profiles on Zoosk, a popular online dating site, without their knowledge.

How in the world is this even possible?

Have you ever logged into a third-party site or app that wanted you to log in with Facebook? Well, in Canada, there are lax digital privacy laws surrounding "open authentication protocol" that allow for third-party sites and apps to share your information with other sites and apps.

Graham Williams, a Vancouver-based technology expert, told the Huffington Post:

"This open authentication scheme is used by Facebook, it's used by Google, it's used by Twitter. ... And it is basically saying to users out there — you don't want to have to remember 100 different passwords or 100 different log-ins, so we're going to let you log in with your Facebook credentials. ... A lot of sites — they can overreach in my opinion. They are looking for a lot of stuff. They are looking for your name, your phone number, your address, your location, your marital status."

Now that we know how it works, the real problem lies within Canada's outdated privacy laws. According to Sharon Polsky, head of the independent advocacy group Privacy and Access Council of Canada, notes that the laws came around when fax machines were being developed and smartphones didn't exist. She says:

"Right now in Canada, there's nothing to stop an organization from gathering that information about you and doing pretty much as they please with it as long as you're notified."

Zoosk however, is denying all claims that it created profiles for anyone without permission.

In the meantime, if you're in Canada and want to keep yourself protected, don't sign into any third-party sites with Facebook. You can use a temporary or fake email address to sign into these sites if you want to stay anonymous. 

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