It is easy to think that because of the tortuous URLs of SkyDrive albums and folders that this obscurity also provides privacy. Setting albums to “Everyone (public)” to make sharing easier does risk exposing them to uninvited eyes.
Let me tell you a story to illustrate the vulnerability. A writer shared a link to a blog post with 23,000 followers on Twitter. The post contained photos with a “VIEW SLIDE SHOW” link to a SkyDrive photo album.
This is a popular and appealing way to share an album, I like to do that myself and many posts here at This ’n That contain such links. Unfortunately, SkyDrive “slide shows” have a link to the thumbnails view of the album. That circled up-arrow in the upper left corner allows anyone to see the album overview and with that a lot more. Right above the thumbnails is the path of the album with a link back to the profile page of the owner. Now the default setting in Windows Live is to show your friends on your profile page. The little icons there allow easy access to the friends’ profile pages. The friends’ profiles likely also show their friends.
Now back to my story. This particular writer also shows the friends’ icons on the profile page. I was able to step from friend to friend – around the country and around the world! I wound up in Brazil on the twentieth hop across the SkyDrive clouds. I did not encounter any with the friends list not showing.
Keep in mind, even if you do not show your friends list, some of your friends might. So someone viewing the profile of a friend can get back to your profile. If you set your privacy setting to “Limited” – you will still be exposing your friends list as shown in the illustration here.
Yes, only your items – albums, folders – set to public can be seen by strangers. But my point is, all you items set to public can be seen, and found by strangers. Don’t expect that your public photos and files will be hidden from prying eyes. Beware!
© 2011 Ludwig Keck