Maeve asked “Can your ISP read conversations that you have with people over Facebook?”
Every Internet communication from your home goes through your Internet Service Provider (ISP). It knows your IP address (actually your router’s IP address), it knows your physical address, and it literally does the job of connecting one to the other.
To use a term we’ve all heard a lot recently, they have your metadata.
[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Unless you take precautions (discussed below), your ISP knows when you’re on Facebook. But unless you ‘friend’ your ISP, it can’t see what you’re doing there.
If you log onto Facebook and check your browser’s URL field, you’ll note that it starts with https. That s tells you that it’s using SSL, and that your data is encrypted between your PC and Facebook’s server.
Not that SSL is all that secure. The Heartbleed bug has made us all aware that SSL isn’t perfect. But I seriously doubt that your ISP will use illegal hacking techniques to read your Facebook posts. That sort of behavior is generally found only among criminals and governments.
But there’s something else you should consider: We’re talking about Facebook. You pay your ISP for a service. Advertisers pay Facebook to tell them all about you. If you’re putting sensitive information up on Facebook, your ISP’s access to that information is the least of your worries.
If you’re using Facebook, or a similar service, you need to follow some privacy tips to protect yourself.