Wonder how much of personal information is fine (read as “safe”) on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and other Social Networking sites? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that social networking web sites are the latest and greatest way to interact with other users on the Internet. Thirty-five percent of adults on the Internet now have a profile on at least one social networking site, and 51 percent have more than one. Three-quarters of users between the ages of 18 and 24 have an online profile.
Although Social Networks are a fun way to keep in touch with friends and family, they can also be dangerous. “Posting certain photos or information on the site puts you at risk of being fired, a victim of crime, or even worse. There are computer programmes called ‘data mining’ that sweep Facebook to collect dates of birth, phone numbers, addresses etc. That’s gold dust to criminals,” according to Whitelegg, an IT security expert.
Dangers of Social Networking: Here are the 10 things you should never post and why:
1. Date and place of birth – This places you at massive risk of identity theft. They are the most commonly used security questions on password resetting sites.
2. Mother’s maiden name – A lot of sites use your mother’s maiden name to authenticate who you are. They also commonly use the school you went to as a security question.
3. Address – It again puts you at risk from identity fraud, but also from burglars and stalkers.
4. Holidays – If you post an update on Twitter saying: “Can’t wait till next Wednesday – two weeks in Hawaii yeh!” you are basically saying: “Come and rob me.“
5. Short trips from home – Again, this can put you at risk of burglary and stalking.
6. Inappropriate photos and jokes - Don’t post racy, illicit, offensive or incriminating photos. Bosses and prospective employers are increasingly looking at Facebook, Twitter and Myspace pages. Also, you might think that you’ve got a great sense of humor but your tweets can send you to jail if the federal agents mistake them for genuine threats!
7. Confessionals - These can also get you fired or haunt you for the rest of your life. Posting you are skiving work, who you are sleeping with, or doing something shameful is just dumb.
8. Phone number – Unless you want to be bombarded with unsolicited phone calls from people trying to sell you something – don’t.
9. Children’s names - These can be used by identity fraudsters or, more sinisterly, by ped0philes. It is much easier to steal a child’s identity. An adult will eventually discover something is wrong by, for example, their credit rating being affected. Children won’t.
10. Don’t post a full public profile - It won’t just exist on Facebook and Twitter, it will also go on any internet search such as Google and Bing. Only give the bare bones such as a name. Keep everything else private.