Scenario: A girl we’ll call “Jessica” set her social networking site to “private.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to protect her identity. Jessica didn’t understand that “private mode” would still show her photo, URL with first and last name, city, state, and when she last logged in–to anyone on the web.
According to a publication on Internet Safety for Teens, this may be enough for someone to steal your identity.
“We know what Jessica looks like,” the publication states, “and her ethnic background. How she dresses says a lot about the group she hangs with as well as her socio-economic status. Finding her phone number and address is just a search away. Finding articles about her in the local newspaper or on her school Web site is just a matter of another search.”
What might happen next? Scammers could customize a scam to match her interests, or show up on her doorstep. And of course, cyberbullying is one click away. To make Jessica’s page truly private she should have:
- changed her profile picture to something less identifiable
- taken her city (at least) out of her profile
- used a nickname instead of her real name
- and made her URL anonymous.
In another example from the same publication, “Chelsea” assumed that because her social networking site was set to private, “invitations to parties she sent would also be private. This wasn’t correct and she was shocked when several people that she didn’t know RSVP’d. She was also upset to discover she’d just posted her address publicly.”
Why the terms and conditions matter on your profiles and sites
“You may be surprised to learn that many sites you use include in their terms the right to use any of your information in any way they choose. If they own your content and profile, and your information is ‘repurposed,’ there isn’t much you can do about it.”
So as you provide information consider how it is being sold, bought, or simply taken and make sure you’re okay with potential outcomes. And don’t forget to check your privacy settings–be sure your Internet-aged children know how to do the same.