For those of you with a profile set to private on MySpace, or more importantly, those of you with kids that have a MySpace profile, you’ll want to pay attention. Despite the fact that you think a profile may be private along with the photos inside of that profile, a bug that Wired recently wrote about will make even private photos accessible to anybody – unless you do one important thing which I’ll explain in just a minute.
This all came to light in an extremely disturbing way. Quoted from Wired news:
In an October post on the music-oriented forum sohh.com, a user asked a contingent of self-described “pedos” for help in accessing the photos of a 16-year-old girl who caught his eye online. “I got a mission for all you pedo soldiers,” he wrote, explaining that the girl’s profile was private.
“I can get them. I know a way around it,” another forum member responded. Minutes later, he posted direct links to 43 photos of the girl. By request, he posted links the next day for another 12 photos, belonging to a 15-year-old girl whose profile is also private.
So how were they able to do it? Well, all it takes is a user’s ID number. And getting that ID number is as easy has hovering over a profile picture (which of course is still shown, even when a profile is set to private) and looking for the number in the status bar of your browser (shown below).
Next you can use any one of the three URL’s below and insert the ID number where you find the X’s:
I tried this with several profiles that I knew were private, and sure enough, it worked. Photos appeared and I was able to sift through them all. Then I went and tried it with my own profile, except no images appeared. So what was different? Well, I found the answer and this is what you need to know to make sure that your images and/or those of your children really are private. Here’s what you need to do:
- Log-in to your MySpace account and in your control panel – click Photos
- Click on an album to open it, and then click “options”
- A box will appear – make sure that your photos are Viewable By: Friends Only
- Click save and now there is no way (that we know of) that people can access your photos
You see, most people just make their Album viewable by everyone because they think that if their profile is private to begin with, only their friends will be able to see the pictures anyways. If all of your photo albums say that they are viewable to “friends only” then you are good to go.
Update: It appears as though the links above no longer work which means MySpace took this seriously and fixed it. That doesn’t mean there won’t be another bug in the future so be sure to go in and make sure all of your albums are viewable by friends only if you’re wanting to keep them private.