Even after hearing how easy it is to gather information via social media, you have to wonder, is that true? Can you really sleuth someone through Facebook, Instagram or other social media formats?
Based on recent experience, the answer is yes. One example is the recent kidnapping of a teenage girl in Germany. Her father, a wealthy businessman is well established in the community. The teenager, a beautiful, vibrant seventeen year old was out walking her dog as she often did. She regularly posted her outings on social media and unfortunately, someone was watching, intently. Her bicycle and dog were found at a nearby park. Her parents received a call from her cellphone, demanding ransom. The story does not end well. Amateur kidnappers feared their identity would be compromised, and the teen was found in a shallow grave in a wooded area near her home.
Consider this: In passing it’s mentioned someone has a new love interest. All that is known is the city in which the new interest lives, a first name and possible occupation. In moments, there is a home address, age, alma mater, occupation, office address, preferred sports and photos. Witness the power of social media and some snooping. Coming of age in the world of technology is incredible. Vulnerable exposure in digital media is not. Conversations and information transfers that once either weren’t possible or took days to complete now occur in an instant.
Research shows more than 900 images of children are being shared online by parents before their fifth birthday, despite many not checking their social network privacy settings. Your social media profile can be customized, so be sure to go to your profile settings to ensure that your information is visible to only people of your choosing. Gordon Gottsegen, an Editorial Fellow at WIRED, wrote a step-by-step guide, Here’s How to Use Facebook’s Mystifying Privacy Settings. This is valuable information on privacy for everyone regarding limiting information and restricting access on Facebook. For information on privacy on other social media sites and your digital footprint, log onto Internet Society.
A recent study from ID Analytics, a company that analyzes identity risk, shows that we’re leaving ourselves vulnerable to such fraudsters via lax social networking habits…
- Nearly 13 million 18-year-olds (and older) using social networking sites will accept any connection request from a member of the opposite sex – even if they don’t know that person.
- Men are more than twice as likely as women to accept any and all invites from someone of the opposite sex (18 percent compared to 7 percent for women).
- Five percent of U.S. adults will accept any friend request they receive – regardless of who sends them.
The internet is open to anyone and almost everyone is online. It’s in your best interest to control what and how much people see about you. It’s especially important to educate children about online activity, privacy and computer security. Here are two good sites to assist you: Microsoft Youth Spark and Guardian Online Net Cetera.
Set a few ground rules. Only establish and maintain contact with people you know and trust. Review your connections often. Always assume that anyone can see information about your activities, personal life or professional life that you post and share. Most of us are taught to think before we speak, and in the digital age, we should pause before we post.