Facebook Safety Tips

5 Facebook Safety Tips by identity theft expert john sileo

Facebook Safety Tip #1: If they’re not your friend, don’t pretend. Don’t accept friend requests unless you absolutely know who they are and that you would associate with them in person, just like real friends.

Facebook Safety Tip #2: Post only what you want made public. Be cautious about the personal information that you post on any social media site, as there is every chance in the world that it will spread beyond your original submission.  It may be fun to think that an old flame can contact you, but now scammers and thieves are clambering to access that personal information as well.

Facebook Safety Tip #3: Manage your privacy settings. Sixty percent of social network users are unaware of their default privacy settings. Facebook actually does a good job of explaining how to lock your privacy down (even if they don’t set up your account with good privacy settings by default). To make it easy for you, follow these steps:

  1. Spend 10 minutes reading the Facebook Privacy Policy. This is an education in social networking privacy issues. Once you have read through a privacy policy, you will never view your private information in the same way. At the point the privacy policy is putting you to sleep, move on to Step 2.
  2. Visit the Facebook Privacy Help Page. This explains how to minimize all of the possible personal information leakage that you just read about in the privacy policy. Once you understand this on one social networking site, it becomes second nature on most of the others. 
  3. Now it is time to customize your Facebook Privacy Settings so that only information you want shared, IS shared. This simple step will reduce your risk of identity theft dramatically.

Facebook Safety Tip #4: Keep Google Out. Unless you want all of your personal information indexed by Google and other search engines, restrict your profile so that it is not visible to these data-mining experts.

Facebook Safety Tip #5: Don’t unthinkingly respond to Friends in Distress. If you receive a post requesting money to help a friend out, do the smart thing and call them in person. Friend in Distress schemes are when a thief takes over someone else’s account and then makes a plea for financial help to all of your friends (who think that the post is coming from you). As with all matters of identity, verify the source.

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who are we here and who are we there?
October 26, 2009, 2:17 pm
Filed under: relationships | Tags: , ,

OK so just reflecting on previous post, it’s a huge call to make admittedly – but if we consider the ways in which we act towards our family in contrast to the way in which we act in a place of work and again in contrast to the way in which we act in social situations, is this not equally ‘constructive’? When we don different personas for different people, are we not actively constructing our own identities time and time again? Thus the questions lies, how can the ‘constructivist nature’ of our facebook profiles be any less of a real account then the conglomeration of identities we use to showcase ourselves to a variety of different publics?

Essentially the point and/or question: the historical validity of facebook?? Its biographical legitimacy and socio authority in confirming who we are and who we are connected to.

Privacy and social networks – video generated by the office of the privacy commission of canada
October 26, 2009, 12:15 pm
Filed under: Identity Theft | Tags: , , , , , , ,

What does a friend of a friend of a friend know about you???

[disclaimer: we do not claim copyright over this material]

Those without Social Network Profiles Could Have Online Identities Stolen
October 26, 2009, 11:49 am
Filed under: Identity Theft | Tags: , , , , ,

Security firm Aladdin in their annual threat report believe a new lot of identity thieves are coming after individual personal web profiles. According to the firm, if you don’t own and control your online persona, it’s relatively easy for a criminal to aggregate the known public information about you in order to create a fake one.

“This new type of identity theft was listed among other predictions for 2009 in the firm’s annual report and was based on previous trends which included a rise in attacks distributed through social networking channels. For example, in 2008, we saw worm writers (like those behind Koobface) taking advantage of the growing popularity of social networks as a means of distributing their worms. As these sites continue to grow, the potential for criminal activity surrounding them will grow as well”.

According to Ian Amit, director of research at Aladdin’s Attack Intelligence Research Centre, the potential damage for this new type of identity theft will be “devastating, both on the personal level by creating difficulties in employment, ruining social and professional connections, damaging reputations; as well as on a financial level, such as stealing customers and corporate data.

To test their predictions this particular team were able to set up fake online identities, which they believe connected to their real network of friends and aquaintences easily. The thought of identity hikacking has personally really scared me, there is so much information online especially in todays society about each and every individual that in the wrong hands could be used against you. It is seen to be a problem that is increasing over time, each day a large amount of information is generated through the internet imagine what could be found after all these years? should we as a society be worried? well i personally am!

Tracking your every move
Image by Toben Black on Flickr

Image by Toben Black on Flickr

The number of third party tracking and advertising companies has expanded as rapidly as the internet. When visiting a web page, chances are your browsing habits are being tracked and recorded by tiny or invisible JavaScript images. The tracking is performed by many different firms and is being combined with social networking data to create extensive consumer profiles in order to market to the individual more efficiently.

In a test conducted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), foundation members visited the US’ largest job site ( and discovered their browsing habits were being monitored by 10 tracking scripts! These included three from companies owned by AOL, a Google owned company and a Microsoft owned company as well as other smaller firms undoubtedly working for other larger corporations. As one of the study conductors Peter Eckersley stated in his blog:

There are pretty sound reasons to hope that when you search for a job online, that fact isn’t broadcast to dozens of companies you’ve never heard of — but that’s precisely what’s happening here.

These companies can follow what we search for over the web using hard to delete cookies and the aforementioned JavaScript. Over time, these companies build up large profiles of what we have visited. Unfortunately, the news gets worse for the average internet user. Now thanks to social networking, these companies not only have a history of your browsing habits, they know who you are!

In a paper by Krishnamurthy and Wills it was revealed that 11 out of the 12 social networking sites examined leaked information to advertising and tracking firms. When users log in, the tracking companies following them access the information and further simply expand their consumer profiles.

By tracking your social networking viewing, tracking companies have developed personalised profiles of your internet use, not just as a nameless consumer, but as you the individual.

Following the EFF’s idea, I myself conducted my own experiment into who is watching me online. Using the FireFox plugin- NoScript (get it at I visited the pages I frequent to see who was looking at my browsing habits. I discovered that I was being nearly constantly watched by tracking companies, something which i found quite unnerving. On the pages I checked there were some legitimate scripts for videos etc, however, it wasn’t hard to pick the tracking scripts with names like and

Also, out of interest, I checked out website and discovered only 2-4 scripts (depending on which page I was on). I thought this may have potentially been because of my location outside of the US. As a result my information was less relevant as the majority of these tracking companies are US based and thus I received less attention.

The bottom line is, however, that there are companies out on the internet trying to create consumer profiles for you in order to market to you more effectively. Try an anti-script program like NoScript, it’s free and while it may initially disrupt your viewing of videos and other embedded items, it lets you know exactly who is trying to watch you online! Furthermore, the EFF Blog, provided some great tips on how to stay unobserved online.