In the current age of ‘social media overshare’, the casual way in which some users treat their Facebook privacy is baffling.
Today while perusing the happenings of Facebook, I came across an article of a British man who used information posted on his neighbors’ Facebook profiles to hack into their bank accounts via banking websites. He spent two years and several hours every day using this information and intercepting their mail to figure out the passwords to their bank accounts. By finding out their username and answering the personal questions asked by the ‘Forgot your Password’ feature, he managed to steal more than £35,000 (US$57,000). (Read the full article here)
The frequency of these FB horror stories is frightening. Once again, I was forced to question, ‘Do we share too much of our lives online?’. The limits seem to change so often that I came up with a few ‘Facebook Guidelines’ that will hopefully help with this problem.
Check your Privacy Settings closely. Make sure only your friends can see your profile. You do not need strangers knowing all your business. A good example of this is the website, OpenBook. It allows anyone to search status updates of Facebook users with unprotected profiles. Their names and profile pictures come up with the status updates. Creepy, right? Protect your profiles!
- Stop friending strangers. For all those people you knew 20 years ago and really don’t know now, limit their access to your profile. Utilize the ‘Friends Lists’ Feature. It may be difficult, but it’s worth it to limit certain people’s access.
- Never put your full birthday on your profile. It’s the first stop for identity theft.
- Don’t tell the world that you’re going on vacation. It’s an invitation to rob your house. But on the other hand, if you were utilizing your friends list properly, you could simply tell your really good friends (then it just becomes bragging!).
- Be careful of what you post for the world to see. Ask the young rioters who just got a 4 year sentence in England for ‘enticing a riot on Facebook’ (do note, no one actually rioted in their area. Makes that 4 years look a little harsher?). It’s never a good plan to post, tweet or upload pictures of illegal activities. Somebody will report you, and rightfully so.
- Don’t announce private messages to all your friends. Use private messaging to have private conversations with your good friends. Especially invitations. When making a Facebook event, triple check that you are only sending it to certain people and not all of Facebook. Party crashers aren’t everybody’s idea of a great time, especially when the numbers reach in the 1000′s.
- Choose a difficult password. And never use the same password for everything. It’s just asking for problems.
There’s also the never-ending debate about children’s photos on Facebook. Inevitable or avoidable? The jury’s still out on this one. In the case of children, I think names, locations, and most definitely school uniforms should be left off the internet. But as usual, if you have strict privacy settings, do you really have to worry?
An interesting read for those who are curious about this topic is an article on the New York Times’ website called ‘Guardian of their Smiles’ .
Thoughts? Tell me what you think below or on our Facebook page.