Facebook is free but is costing you.

A few years ago I had a tough time getting my wife to sit down in front of a computer, today I have a tougher time getting her to pay attention to me over it.  Now that is a bit of an exaggeration but she does spend more time online today and at times I have to ask for her attention when she is online.

She is part of the great digital transition.   These are people who really at one time had little or no interest in technology but have been drawn in due to social media.   The result is that we have more people online engaged in sharing of personal information, ideas and raw data.   Information about you is valuable.

Facebook itself is more dangerous because the data is near real time.   Where are you?  How are you feeling ?  What are you doing?  Who are you talking to?  What are you buying?  What are you interested in?  How many kids do you have?  Do you have a pet?  What is important to you?  Who is important to you?

Would you tell strangers this information?  We tell our kids about stranger danger  but what about us?  The more people know about you the more you are at risk but beyond that Facebook is using that information to sell you.

Why is HIPAA important?  The fundamental answer is privacy.   So, I am not supposed to know that you broke your arm in 2002 but I can find out how much you are worth financially or other information that may be more harmful.

Where does Facebook come in?

You are providing information.   I have some friends in the Intelligence community that wouldn’t even sign up for Facebook.  It is “too dangerous” to put information like that out there.  The privacy settings are established between you and other users but that doesn’t have anything to do with the Facebook team themselves.  Facebook is a company that is using your information that you freely provide to make money.   If I came to your door and asked you questions about your personal life what would you be willing to tell me?

Here are some tips taken from the University of Texas at Austin on cyber security concerning Facebook

  • Consider restricting access to your profile. If the site allows it, it’s a good idea to limit access to your profile. Don’t allow strangers to learn everything they can about you. It’s just not safe.
  • Keep your private information private. Never post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, full birth date, financial information, or schedule. These will make you vulnerable to identity thieves, scams, burglars, or worse.
  • Choose a screen name that is different from your real name. Avoid using any personal information that would help someone identify or locate you offline.
  • Think twice before posting your photo. Photos can be used to identify you offline. They can also be altered or shared without your knowledge.
  • Don’t post information that makes you vulnerable to a physical attack. Revealing where you plan to meet your friends, your class schedule, or your street address is almost an open invitation for someone to find you. Remember that a photo in front of the Co-op tells strangers you are in Austin, and quite likely at the university.
  • Use your common sense. If you are contacted by a stranger online, find out if any of your established friends know the person, or run an online search on them (after all, you can use these things to your own benefit too!). If you agree to meet them, make it in a public place and invite others to join you.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel threatened or uncomfortable during an online interaction, don’t continue the dialogue. Report any offensive behavior to the social networking Web site administrators.
  • Be suspicious. Don’t take any information you receive from a new online contact at face value. The Internet makes it easy for people to say or do things they would never say or do in public or in face-to-face interactions. Protecting yourself is the smart thing to do.

Here is an infographic showing some interesting statistics on how companies leverage your information.  

Whatever you choose to share or do concerning social media, please keep in mind that when you are talking to your mother, brother, sister, friend or neighbor that whatever you are telling them you are telling a corporation whose objective is to make money from that information.

Link to another article about you in realtime

One thought on “Facebook is free but is costing you.

  1. Did you know that FACEBOOK is now part of many background checks. Looking for a job, don’t be surprised if your prospective employer uses FACEBOOK to see who you are along with the Police and insurance companies.


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