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Is It Safe to Sign Into Other Sites Using Facebook?

Convenience or personal safety?

A few years ago, many websites began offering a convenient option: Instead of creating a separate account, new users could simply log into the sites using their Facebook account names and passwords.

Tens of thousands of websites sites now offer this option, among them the online-video site Vimeo, the daily-deal giant Groupon and the music-streaming service Spotify.

Logging into websites using Facebook is an easy way to avoid managing multiple login credentials. But it also gives an unprecedented amount of your personal information — such as a list of your Facebook friends as well as your likes and dislikes — to websites that may not be secure.

The question is: Where should the line between convenience and personal data safety be drawn?

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Jane Blume, a management consultant and owner of Desert Sky Communications, a public-relations firm in Albuquerque, N.M., thinks signing in with Facebook is too much of an identity-theft risk.

"It gives the websites access not only to my personal information, but to information about everyone I'm connected to," Blume said. "I don't want their [my Facebook friends'] privacy invaded without their consent. I work very hard to protect myself from identity theft."

Matthew White, chief executive officer of mobile-app maker Whitepoint Inc., in Alpharetta, Ga., was more open to using third-party logons, but he's still cautious.

"As a [Facebook] user, Facebook sign-in is incredibly convenient," White said. "Sign-in integration is also incredibly convenient for developers building new products. But many users are becoming increasingly wary of how the information is being used, who else accesses that information and what impact — if any — it has on their friends' information."

  • Jean-Francois Messier
    Using Facebook (or GMail) credentials to authenticate to other sites also carries another risk. If someone gets your username and password, they can also access all those sites where you signed up with the same credentials. For this reason, I would strongly recommend anyone doing this to use a two-factor authentication such as theone that Google offers.

    I guess it also depends on the balance between easy signin and privacy. I started using Facebook credentials for a bike application that tracks my trips, and it works well. But I would not let just any application use my Facebook credentials to authenticate me.
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