Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Privacy the enemy of greedy social media

Now that we all know how much Facebook hates user privacy, and wants them to just give it up and quit resisting, let me share some thoughts on how privacy is important to your survival.

Privacy is the enemy of greedy social media.

They encourage you to share your tastes and experiences in music, schooling, literature, religion, TV, movies, politics, sexual orientation, and so on. Why? "To connect with others who share similar interests" is the line they repeat over and over.

That's fine. You probably won't endanger yourself or your family by sharing such details.

But you will be helping advertisers deliver sales hype and product promotions to you, in an often annoying and disruptive manner. Still, no real harm is done, and companies have to survive. Just as long as you know the "open sharing" and "connect with others" concepts are not entirely true.

If a social network can get you to reveal everything about yourself, in the name of "open sharing", you're an easy target. Who will target you? In addition to legitimate marketers, you'll also risk exposure to a variety of unseemly forces: identity thieves, advertisers, Nigerian scammers, nosey neighbors, employers, stalkers, rapists...need I continue?

If you're not doing anything wrong or illegal, you shouldn't have anything to hide, right?


You need to keep certain things under lock and key. Loose lips sink ships. If you blurt out all your personal details, you endanger your own finances, life, and family. There are many things that nobody needs to know.

Just knowing what town you were born in, or your mother's maiden name, or the name of your pet, information like this can help a hacker guess your passwords. Often people use these details when composing a password, and they even use the same password for all their accounts and online activities, including banking transactions.

Yet, in the name of "being open" and "sharing" and "transparency", uneducated people spew all this information all over the social networks, not thinking about how this information could be used against them to deny them employment, to dispute a workman's compensation claim, to kidnap their kids, to commit identity theft, to burglarize, to rape, and many other unsavory acts.

A bad person could take some personal information you blabbed on a social media site, use it to trick you into clicking on a link, then attach spyware to your computer to learn more about you and your children.

They could take some personal information and use it to trick you into going to a website that pretends to be Twitter or Facebook, then ask you to enter your username and password. Then they can use that information to start sending spam or malware links to all your followers, fans, and friends in your social network.

If you don't understand why privacy is important, you need to learn more about online scams, phishing, malware, spyware, browser exploits, Trojans, viruses, and identity theft. You also need to think about jilted boyfriends, disgruntled ex-lovers, and others who might have cause, or craziness, to get revenge on you.

I'm not saying you should obsess over these things. I'm just saying you should be aware of them.

Privacy = The blockade that keeps unscrupulous companies from social engineering you into wasting your money.

Privacy = That pesky thing that stands between you & unlimited scamming by greedy, misanthropic companies.

Privacy = Secrecy that prevents sociopaths, vengeful enemies, rapists, serial killers, kidnappers, and other bad guys from knowing your whereabouts and personal habits.

Privacy = Your first line of defense against identity theft and hacked accounts.

I'll list just a few things that you should not disclose. Before you think I'm being "paranoid" or "uptight", remember: I'm talking about protecting your passwords, your chances of employment, your legal rights, your children, and your person.

Some Things to Keep Private:

* town you were born in

* mother's maiden name

* social security number

* phone number

* current location (especially if you're female and alone)

* first car you ever owned

* names of your children

* photos of your children

* where your children go to school

* your favorite restaurants

* people you don't like

* bad feelings about past employers

* your physical home address

* what airport you're at.

Share your expertise. Share your tastes in music. Share music or art or poetry you've created. Share your dreams and hopes. But shut your mouth when it comes to private, personal details that nobody really needs to know.

Are you so impressed with yourself, that you think everybody is craving every little detail of your life, family, and behavior patterns? Much of the self-revelation frenzy is based on gross inflated narcissism and grandiose delusions of an over-exalted ego.

As I've often stated on Twitter, the only people who care what airport you're at -- are burglars.

There are so many ways to deliver your privacy on a silver platter. Criminals are eager for you to succumb to the "Privacy is Dead" syndrome. The more you blab, the easier their job is. Don't be an idiot. When appropriate, zip your lip.


ReadWriteWeb "Facebook's Zuckerberg Says The Age of Privacy is Over"

ReadWriteWeb "Why Facebook is Wrong: Privacy is Still Important"

See my post on "Dangers of Location Based Status Updates" and "Permanently DELETE Your Facebook Account".

Also see my post on "Dangers of Personal Blogging".

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