Most of us are under the impression that social networking sites are safe havens for our thoughts, feelings and just about anything that we want to share with our friends, family and contacts. However, one must not forget that whatever you put online is up for the whole world to see, not just your close friends, family or coworker.
As such, we have seen “scandal” photos taken off people’s MySpace, Facebook and other social networking accounts circulating in the Internet.
Your best bet, of course, would be to be prudent about what information you make available online. Before you post photographs or blog posts, make sure that it is something that you are comfortable having your mother, spiritual adviser or boss read through your blog post or seeing these photos. If you do not think they will approve, better not post them.
This goes for relatively tame personal information. If you are planning a party, you might think that posting the details on MySpace is the easiest way to get the word out. You might indicate the time of the party and your home address in the invites.
On the day of your party, people you do not know show up at your doorstep or someone might obtain that address for other reasons. Make sure that you do not post personal information, such as your home address, mobile number, where you work, where you are going to be, online. This would only help strangers find you.
If you think that stalkers are the least of your worries, think about getting your accounts hacked. Google has recently changed the way they verify your e-mail accounts. Instead of asking privacy questions like your hometown, or who your favorite uncle is, or the name of your spouse, they now require you to input a mobile phone number. In case you lose your Google password, the system will send a verification request or a new password to this mobile phone number. The reason? Hackers were able to glean the answers to the password questions from people’s Facebook and social networking profiles. Other services like Yahoo have yet to follow suit.
By putting personal information on social networking sites, you are inadvertently and unwittingly helping hackers steal your identity. One telling story that of Tracy Turkish Brooks, a Christian Facebook user whose account was hacked. The hacker, posing as Brooks, then wrote steamy messages on Tracy’s wall, and then acting as if “she” was embarrassed.
The lack of discretion in putting information online can severely harm you if these fall into the hands of the wrong people–and by wrong people, we do not mean psychos, hackers and stalkers alone. They could be your bosses, significant other or loved ones. Potential recruits have not been offered jobs after the company’s HR department found incriminating photos on the applicant’s social networking sites. Employees have been fired due to the content they put on their social networking accounts, which sadly include the company’s trade secrets.
Do not put yourself or your family in danger. Always be cautious and think twice about what you are putting up online.