Facebook began with college students who wanted to connect to one another back in 2004. Today, Facebook has many purposes. It can connect people of all ages, but it’s also a marketing powerhouse for businesses that want to reach customers.
As Facebook has expanded over the years, so has its popularity. This platform literally has billions of users. That provides amazing opportunities for businesses and people to connect. It also provides plenty of opportunities for thieves to steal your identity.
If you’re using Facebook, your identity is at risk. Here are three reasons why.
- Personal data harvesting
If you’ve been following the news over the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard of Cambridge Analytica. They are a data firm that collects information about people that can then be sent to clients who want to learn more about consumer behavior. This data firm recently used an app on Facebook to harvest user data without permission. That data was then sold.
However, that’s only the beginning of the story.
Most of these companies are well-meaning. They just want to know how to market to their target audience. However, there are plenty of hackers out there who would love to get their hands on this kind of information.
- Sharing too much personal information
You can’t put all the blame on companies who are harvesting your information. Especially since a lot of this information isn’t exactly a secret, like your age, hometown, and gender. Chances are, you’re revealing a lot more about your identity than that.
Oversharing is a huge problem on Facebook. We’ve talked about this a little bit before over on our home security system blog. If you talk about being on vacation, you drastically increase your chances of discovering you’ve been burglarized when you return home.
It’s not just burglars who can learn a lot about your family. Identity thieves can learn a lot too.
They can very easily learn the answers to common security questions, like what high school did you attend and what is your mother’s maiden name, by poking around on Facebook.
Photos can be a huge problem too. Not only do you want to avoid posting pictures of your big screen TV, you also have to be careful what information is in those photos that you may not have noticed. For example, your house address or a piece of mail in the background can provide a thief with all the information they need to steal your identity.
- You fell for a scam
Scammers can call you to get your information, they can text you, and they can email you. Well, they can scam you on social media too. And you can follow all the rules and still end up in trouble.
Some scammers will create fake profiles of people you actually know. Then, they attempt to friend you to gain access to your profile and your personal information. Before you friend someone, you should always go through your friends list and make sure you aren’t already friends with that person.
Links are a huge problem in emails, but they’re a huge problem on social media as well. Clicking on an unsafe link can leave you with malware on your computer. If you think you’re following a trustworthy link that has requested personal information, you may provide that information without being any the wiser.
Are you automatically at risk simply by having a Facebook profile? The jury is still out. However, one thing is for sure. You have to pay very close attention to the information on your profile, your friends list, apps you use, and privacy policies to make sure you aren’t being taken advantage of. Only time will tell if users really care about their information and if they’re willing to do what it takes to keep their identities safe.