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I don’t think you need us to tell you by now about the risks of revealing too much on Facebook. In light of the NSA revelations, people are becoming more security-conscious and being more careful about what they say and reveal online. However, despite knowing the pitfalls, some people still insist on telling the whole world via Facebook what they did with their day.
From a security point of view, telling everyone you ate Sugar Puffs for breakfast, or posting a photo of your belly button lint, isn’t going to get you into hot water. But the following might.
Checking In And Making It Public
I’ve been guilty of this one before until someone told me to make my check-ins “friends only”. It’s perfectly normal to want to share your intrepid adventures with your Facebook followers but if you highly publicise the fact that no-one is at home, then an opportunistic burglar might come around to your house and become the new owner your TV and next-gen games console.
Keep your check-ins “friends only” or limit it to family and trusted friends. Or even better, don’t do the check-in thing at all. Do you really want Facebook to have a list of all the places you’ve visited?
Revealing Home Addresses & Phone Numbers
In the “about” section, there are spaces for you to reveal all kinds of personal information, including your sexual orientation. It also invites an address and phone number to be entered. This is where you really start to get into murky waters.
For a start, matching your name up to an address and phone number opens you up to all kinds of spam – Facebook is selling your name and address to marketing firms. But more importantly, revealing where you live enables weirdos, lunatics, and positively dangerous people to track you down. If they don’t like something you said on Facebook, they would just have to check your about section to get your address and phone number. Cue heavy breathing and hang-ups at 3.00am.
Don’t put your address and phone number on Facebook! If you MUST put something down (say for business purposes), get a post box number, and instead of a landline phone, put down a mobile or Skype phone number. One that you wouldn’t mind abandoning if people start calling you up.
Showing Your Kids (For All The Perverts To Drool Over)
If you have been using Facebook for quite some time, then I am sure that you will have witnessed this one. Proud parents showing off their kids by posting photo after photo after photo…..
Obviously it is normal to be proud of your kids (“awww, look at Calvin! He has his brother Timmy in a headlock!”). But if the status updates are set to public, right away you are providing new material for pedophiles to drool over. Combine that with the address in your “about” section….well, you don’t need me to draw you a picture.
Seriously limit the number of photos of your kids on Facebook. If you must put them on, set the status to “friends only”, and make sure you’re aware of how the site’s privacy settings work. Oh and please don’t do what some people have been doing which is deciding to set up your kid’s Facebook account for the future, so they get the username they want. There’s plenty of time for that. Besides, Facebook might not exist when your kid turns 13.
General Information Which Leads To Targeted Advertising
If there is one thing which Facebook is universally hated for, it’s advertising. Even though they are a public company which needs to make money, people still object to ads which they say is intrusive and “in your face”.
Let’s look at some of the ways that are dangerous to you if you say the wrong thing on Facebook. They’re not “it will kill you” dangerous, but instead dangerous in terms of your reputation, your finances, etc.
- You tell your followers that you are feeling down and possibly depressed. Facebook sells your info to an insurance company, and when you try to apply for life insurance, you are denied. On Facebook, you get constant ads about making your peace with God, and making up your will before you go. If you were hesitating about making the final leap, ads like that might persuade you.
- You gripe that you have a bad back and you are on long term sick leave from work. Suddenly you get ads about medicine, wellness spas, etc. What’s worse is that your insurance premiums go up. Don’t believe that something like this would happen? It was strongly suspected this year that fitness tracker Fitbit was selling user information to insurance companies, who were then seeing if any of the users were customers. If so, they used the fitness information to adjust the premiums accordingly. Fitbit strongly denies the charge but who knows if they are lying or not? Now if Fitbit is suspected doing it, do you think Facebook would have any qualms about trying the same if the price was right?
- You are discussing NSFW subjects with a Facebook follower, while at work. Suddenly you get ads for dildos and sex dolls. The boss walks past and sees it. Suddenly it’s “can I see you in my office please?”. Next step – the unemployment office.
Now these are three things that instantly came to mind. I am confident there are numerous others, and I am sure you can cite some in the comments.
Be extremely careful what you talk about, and always keep that kind of conversation “friends only”. Even better, get off Facebook altogether and discuss your hemorrhoids elsewhere.
So the moral of this story kiddies is : be careful, be suspicious, and be paranoid. Because sometimes they really are out to get you.
Image Credits: Hand picking a book Via Shutterstock