10 things you should not put on Facebook - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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10 things you should not put on Facebook

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - We have never seen anything like it in history and it  has created a cultural revolution in worldwide communication. 

As of today, in only 6 years of existence, a staggering 600,000,000 people are active members of Facebook.  That's almost 1-in-5 people on the planet!

It's created a communication explosion that's taken us from mindless posts such as having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, to playing central roles in the people's revolutions giving birth in Iran and now in Egypt.

In our country, this might surprise you - more women than men are members. About 55% are female members and 45% male.

The U.S. accounts for only 25% of the worldwide Facebook members - leaving a huge 75% for the rest of the world. 

While it's resulted in a cultural revolution, there's also a downside – a big downside. The boom in all social networking and people's desires to share their lives with others has only made things worse. The #1 crime in America is identify theft.

The federal government says that within the next five years we will all have our identities stolen in one way or another.

Attacks such as phishing and malware attacks on social-networking sites doubled in 2010 over the previous year.

As one technology consultant said: "Once you break into a Facebook account, it's a treasure trove of data."

You may not be a victim yet, but it's only a matter of time.

If you're making it easy for cyber-criminals, we have the Top Ten Things NOT to do on Facebook.  

#1 Your birth date.  Sure, give the month and day, but never include the year you were born.  A no-brainer you say?  Well, a recent poll revealed that 89% of Facebook users in their 20s divulged their full birthdays.  This is one key piece of the "reverse-engineering" puzzle that thieves use to get your social security number and gain the ability to steal your identity and financial information.

#2 Do not include your home address.  This is no-brainer #2 right? Well, not so.  The same survey revealed that an amazing 40 % listed their home addresses.

#3 Trash-talk no one!  You may hate your job and some of your co-workers, but no trash-talking about where you work or about any, as they're called "frenemies". 

It is not wise to talk about lying on your taxes or using illegal drugs.  It's now common practice for employers to use social networking sites to determine who to hire and who to fire.

There are cases all over the country, including the Pittsburgh Pirate's mascot who got canned for trashing the team's dismal performance on Facebook. 

#4 Never use on Facebook any of the security questions you gave for any online accounts, like to your bank.

Avoid giving out details like the name of your first pet or your mother's maiden name.  Keep all that off Facebook because it's more of the puzzle in revealing who you are.

#5 Avoid poor grammar and spelling mistakes. Use capital letters when you're supposed to and correct punctuation marks.  Otherwise, you risk the impression that you're not too smart.    

#6 Customize your Facebook settings so all the world can't see your postings, your photos, your everything.  Limit it to friends and friends only. If you think you've got it set correctly, double-check it anyway.  Facebook continues to try to improve security for its users and you may right now have a window open to an intruder when you want it closed.

#7 Reject any "friend request" from someone you don't know.  Would you rather slight someone who might be a friend of a friend, or would you rather take the chance for trouble? This might seem like a routine thing – to reject strangers on any social network, but a staggering 46% - nearly half – of all Facebook users actually accept requests from strangers.

That's very dangerous considering the explosion of Facebook users and the resulting increase in mining of personal data and cases of identity theft, and other more serious instances of stalking - even murder.

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Many Facebook members DO limit their groups to friends only, but that isn't the case usually with Twitter accounts, where the goal is to get as many followers as possible. 


In fact, the biggest Twitter accounts are, at #2, Justin Bieber… with a colossal 6.9 million followers, and Lady Gaga, #1, with a million more – nearly 8 million following.

You can bet that Justin and Lady Gaga have NONE of their personal information on their accounts – but can you say the same?

As Lady Gaga would certainly agree, it is nuts if you include personal data on Twitter, as it just increases exponentially, the chance of you becoming a victim of online fraud and even worse.

There have been hundreds of cases of online predators pretending to be someone else, only to have it end up in tragic cases of sexual assault and even the murder of children.

#8 Posting photos and videos may put children at risk.  While it's an amazing technology to let grandma and grandpa see video of their grandkid's birthday party 3000 miles away, it's quite another for the tiny percentage of users who are evil, such as stalkers and pedophiles.

We are not saying "NOT" to post the images, but just be aware of it.

#9 Know when you are geotagging. Geotagging is hidden geographical information imprinted on photos and videos you post online. 

[What is geotagging?]

They show among other things longitude and latitude of where the image was taken and the information is not visible to the naked eye, but can be revealed with a few keystrokes. 

Most people don't know the data is embedded on the images taken by many still cameras and most iPhones and smartphones. The data can be discovered later and used by criminals for their own purposes.

The best and easiest solution to the potential problem is to disable the geotagging feature on your cell phones and digital cameras.  Do it by going into the "Settings" feature… or just use your owner's manual.

 And #10: Dont update your Facebook status while robbing a house. 

That's exactly what police in Martinsburg, West Virginia say 19-year-old Jonathan Parker did.

It seems that Mr. Parker was in the process of burglarizing the home when he stopped at the victim's open computer to check his Facebook status. 

He might have got off scot free if he had not forgotten to log off.  Police arrested him a short time later.

The point in all this is to encourage you to go over all your settings on Facebook as well as to review "all" your social network accounts.

And one final note, if you have young kids -- how young is too young to join Facebook?  The consensus is 13-years-old.  Parents should not only set them up, but experts say, they should monitor their accounts and their friends regularly. 

It's very important to educate children about the risks of sharing too much information.

[Online Safety Tips for Kids]

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