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In computer news this week 04/14 /2012
The downside of social networking – part 2
Last week I mentioned that today 1 out of 10 people on earth has a facebook page. As of February 2012, Facebook has more than 845 million active users
That’s a lot of users. That’s a lot of information. That’s a lot of personal information out there for the entire world to see.
In the old days, specifically my generation of aging close-to-baby-boomers – the closest thing we had to a Facebook page was a personal diary, and you guarded the information in it as a secret – no one was ever supposed to look at it and it was your own personal journal of your thoughts and activities.
A Facebook page today is similar to a diary; with just one major difference. Instead of being kept in a book hidden somewhere in your bedroom, your Facebook page is online for the entire world to see.
Most Facebook users give out information about themselves, their age and marital status, where they live, what schools they attended, where they work, what their spouse or children’s names are, what they like to do and where they like to go, photos of themselves and their friends, and of course the friend list which sometimes expands into the thousands.
All of this is personal information that you might not want to share with the world. A few decades ago credit bureau companies would do investigations of people for insurance reasons, trying to find out personal information about people. If you applied for insurance, they would send an insurance investigator into your neighborhood to ask your neighbors questions about you. What kind of a person are you; do you drink a lot; do you party a lot, who are your friends. Today these companies just need to look at your facebook page not only to get most of this information, but to see your current and future planned activities.
Skiptracers, debt collectors, bail bondsmen used to have to do a lot of footwork and driving to get information on people. Now they can just scan the Facebook pages by name.
Identify thieves have found Facebook a treasure trove of information. People commonly use the names of their children or pets or schools they’ve graduated from as passwords. You can see it all on Facebook. Another common banking logon question is where were you married, or what’s the birthdate of your child. You can see it all on Facebook.
Even criminals have Facebook pages. Over the past months I’ve read stories about criminal activity here in Spokane in the newspaper, and I could go to Facebook and find these people on Facebook and see their pictures, their activities, and their friends. If the law was after them you could almost predict what out-of-town friends they’d go to hide out with.
I’ve seen some TV ads from insurance companies telling people not announce on their facebook pages that they’re going on vacation for 3 weeks in the Bahamas. That’s just asking burglars to come by, and you’d think people would realize this, but they don’t.
And all this is just basic information on most people’s facebook pages.
I’m looking at one of a friend of mine, and instantly I can see where they work, where they went to college, high school, family members names and ages, their activities – movies they like. I’m reading this, but if I want to capture this information - I can do 2 keystrokes and I have an exact copy of their facebook page downloaded onto my computer. I could create a folder of their name, and daily I could add new information to it.
But I’ll bet someone’s already doing this, and I’ll talk about this danger and others more next week.
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This is Frank Delaney
(C) 2012 MTA Micro Technology Associates