When it comes to Facebook we need to take things more seriously. In the midst of my presentations this week I gave one on the dangers of the internet. Since I make my living thanks to internet publications, I obviously am not against this amazing piece of technology. But, at the same time, I think people aren’t aware of how easy it is find information online about a person.
To illustrate this point to an unbelieving class of 17-year-olds I picked one of my random friends from Facebook and from his list of friends I selected a guy at random. I was not friends with him and a significant amount of his information was protected from my sight, but there was still enough to give me a starting point.
From his Facebook account I could tell he had a young daughter. His non-protected photo albums were full of pictures of the beautiful blonde-haired three-year old. I soon had the name of his employer, his daughter’s name as well as his wife’s name. From there I discovered his wife’s Facebook account, which gave me the city they lived in, the high school and colleges they attended and the name of their family dog.
A simple Google search pulled up the home address and telephone number for this couple, as well as the address and phone number of his place of employment. If I switched Google maps to a satellite view I could even see exactly what his house looked like from the street.
The students stared at the computer screen in disbelief that I had just unearthed all this information about a stranger in the matter of 5 minutes. And while I might be a little more savy than the average person on the internet, I’m not the only one who knows how to Google search. Imagine, I told them, what someone could do with their basic information from Facebook!
They left the classroom that day vowing to go home and change all their settings to private. I highly suggest everyone does the same.