Infographic: Which Social Networking Sites Are Secure?

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Privacy concerns and the state of our personal information continue to dominate the conversation around social networking. Because of ever-changing -- and sometimes confusing -- privacy policies, Facebook seems to be in the news at least once a month because a new group is organizing as a way to protest the site's latest shift in direction. But only a subset of those protesting ever leave. That's why they protest to begin with: They don't want to leave the site -- it offers them too much -- they just want the site to conform to their ideals.

Responding to this obsession with privacy, ZoneAlarm assembled an infographic that ranks some of the most trafficked social networks according to the level of security they each offer. Surprisingly, Facebook was given four stars, putting it at the top of the list because of its personalized settings. In the end, though, it's not the number of stars that matter but the factors ZoneAlarm used to determine that ranking. Dig into the details to see which social networks might be best for you.

Infographics are always a bit of a hodgepodge of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Here, we sort through the clutter and pull out some of our favorite facts and figures:

  • MySpace was given four stars because users are given the ability to report spam messages and account abuse. "Did you know that MySpace will delete profiles of members that have lied about their ages to obtain a membership?" the infographic asks. You must be 13 or older to join.
  • Bebo, which also requires users to be at least 13 years old, received a top rating because it is the only social networking site that defaults your profile to private; that setting must be manually changed in order to be public.
  • Orkut, which is popular in Brazil as an alternative in Facebook, also received four stars. The social networking site requires users to be 18 before they can join, but that's not because there is any explicit material available.
  • Twitter and hi5 both received three and a half stars from ZoneAlarm. It's surprising that hi5, which doesn't have any advertising, didn't rank higher on the list: It includes a privacy link at the top of every page that allows users to set a number of settings, including comment blocking and message and photo restrictions.

Check out more Infographics on the Technology Channel.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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