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I saw an article from the New York Times that talks about online security.  I tried to attach the link but unfortunately it got removed frown. I’ve always been amazed at how much personal information people give out on social networking sites. The fact that data can be mined is what has kept me from joining many of these sites, that and I tend to lean to the side of being an extremely private person anyway.  

The article reminded me that many individuals do not know how much of their personal information, things that seem benign like a birth date or marital status, can be used with an address (from a phone book) to start the identity theft ball rolling. A friend of mine showed me a high school friend’s post on Facebook and it contained not only her real name, including middle initial, but also her birth date, address, marital status, phone number, children’s names and all of their pictures. Granted, it was probably there because of the upcoming high school reunion but this person was not able to control who saw all this personal information and if they were interested in using it for ill intent. While social networking is a great way to share and connect, it can be used for other things like ID theft.  

Phishing is prevalent and many of the facts mined from social networking sites are used to trap people into revealing even more personal information. Even a pet’s name can be used to hack a password or for phishing. Many sites allow people who are not part of the site to see comments and posting. Even if someone has joined the site, their own information may be fictitious and their profile created only to gain access to more information. Anyone and everyone has access to information we ourselves have chosen to post on social networking sites and we won’t always know who has accessed them and if those individuals harbor less than good intent. My intent is not to sound paranoid or against social networking, I mean I chose to join this one happy My intent is to inform. Please be aware and safe.  

If you want to read the article, go to the New York times website and do a search. The article is entitled, “How Privacy Vanishes Online,” by Steve Lohr, published March 16, 2010 in the technology section. It is also listed under “Most emailed”  

Thank you for reading.

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