13 ways to be paranoid on Facebook November 4, 2010Posted by Karoliina Leikomaa in Shadow Karma.
The story itself was a good example what talking about social media shoud NOT be like. Making people paranoid is never a good thing because when people are afraid and paranoid, they start to panic. Social media is not the bad guy, no matter how many mistakes Facebook has done over the course of years. Because I don’t like people being intimidated into believing that Facebook or social media in general is a horrible place and thinking all your friends are robbers if not worse, I decided to list the 13 things mentioned in the article and state my opinion about them.
1. Your Birth Date And Place
According to Huffington post, this is as bad as giving you bank information to a complete stranger.
I partly agree. It is easy to forge a Finnish social security number if you know the exact birth date, year, birth place and gender. With this information, there is less than 100 possibilities for the social security number (the formula for calculating it can be found from Wikipedia, by the way) but you still have to guess the last few digits. However, knowing one’s birth day but not the year makes it much more difficult. Having you birthday without the year and your high school (or “lukio”) with the year you graduated makes figuring the year pretty easy, if you’re Finnish.
The problem becomes real if someone decides to forge your social security number and for example opens a bank account (which in some banks is possible online, most likely without ever showing your id to anyone) or decides to get an insurance in your name. It’s possible to do a lot of things online if you have a bank account. And there is a catch: opening a bank account or buying an insurance etc. pretending to be someone else is not illegal in Finland even though it’s clearly an identity theft. It becomes illegal only when the person pretending to be someone else does something illegal.
So, having your date of birth on Facebook is ok as long as you don’t have the year or anything which makes it easy to guess your year of birth. You might want to Google your name, too, and make sure you don’t have the information about your year of birth on any other service either.
2. Your Mother’s Maiden Name
According to Huffington Post credit card companies, insurance companies and other services use the information about your mother’s maiden name to make the service more secure.
I disagree with this. Credit card companies, insurance companies and other companies dealing with personal stuff in Finland use bank access codes to make sure the service is secure. In general the bank access codes are rather safe as they have nothing to do with the number of the bank account. Depending on the bank, the login and password are usually rather ok, but what makes it safe is that all of the banks (to my knowledge) use also passwords which change. The customer is sent a list of passwords which to use and without those passwords it’s not possible to do anything using the bank account.
However, mother’s maiden name is often asked in services like Facebook or Hotmail. In those cases it’s best to give the name in some different form. I often use some other last name, not my mother’s maiden name, for those questions. If possible, I use the open question in which I can make up the question in case I forget my password. But that question should never be something obvious and having an answer with numbers and letters and perhaps even no proper words is always more secure.
3. Your Home Address
Huffington Post mentiones cases in which burglars have robbed a house when the occupants have said on social media they are away
I agree, more or less. Having your home address on Facebook or on any other social media service is useless. Most of the people don’t care about your home address. Unless you have a business with an office you want people to walk in to, you have no reason to have your home address on any social media service.
4. Your Long Trips Away From Home
Don’t post status updates that mention when you will be away from home.
Agree, mostly. There’s no need to say you’re going to be in a foreign country for two weeks. Then again, if you’re for example taking part in a conference, you might want to let your friends know you’re there so they can come and meet you, if they’re near.
5. Your Short Trips Away From Home
Although new features like Facebook Places encourage you to check in during outings and broadcast your location (be it at a restaurant, park, or store), you might think twice even before sharing information about shorter departures from your home.
Disagree, partly. There’s no need to be paranoid about things you’re telling on Facebook. However, no one is insterested in your every move so posting where you are at a given moment might not be wise.
6. Your Inappropriate Photos
By now, nearly everyone knows that racy, illicit, or otherwise incriminating photos posted on Facebook can cost you a job (or worse). But even deleted photos could come back to haunt you.
Agree, more or less. No one is interested in those photos and they are not funny. You wouldn’t want your photos on a billboard in the centre of you home town, would you? Then don’t post them on Facebook or any other online service.
Flubbing on your tax returns? Can’t stand your boss? Pulled a ‘dine and dash?’ Don’t tell Facebook.
Undecided. A good guideline is: if you’d talk about it when walking down the street or in a cafeteria, you can put it on you Facebook status, too.
8. Your Phone Number
Watch where you post your phone number. Include it in your profile and, depending on your privacy settings, even your most distant Facebook “friends” (think exes, elementary school contacts, friends-of-friends) might be able to access it and give you a ring. Sharing it with Facebook Pages can also get you in trouble.
Disagree, more or less. The key in the above text is “depending on your privacy settings”. If you don’t want to share your phone number, don’t share it on your profile. Plain and simple. The problem might be if people use Facebook application for iPhone, which syncs all the contacts from the phone to Facebook (but not vice versa). The application creates a phone book on Facebook and adds names to phone numbers depending on the numbers people have on their profiles.
Sharing your phone number on Facebook Pages is more tricky thing. There are numerous applications, which search for phone numbers from Pages such as “I’ve lost all my phone numbers”. This way the numbers might (and most likely will) end up in the wrong hands and if nothing else, the amount of spam callers and people selling stuff on the phone will suddently become huge. The problem is using one’s phone number for something illegal, too.
My advice is to check you have your privacy settings so that you’re happy with it (for example sharing your phone number only with some friends and not all of them) and not giving your phone number on any Facebook Page. If someone has lost your number, you can send it to them with a private message or give it on Facebook chat instead!
9. Your Vacation Count-down
“There may be a better way to say ‘Rob me, please’ than posting something along the lines of: ‘Count-down to Maui! Two days and Ritz Carlton, here we come!’
Agree, partly. It is true telling when you’ll be away from home can be considered a bad thing and the count-down gives even more time for any robber to plan what to do. However, count-down to the beginning of a holiday is not that bad. Some people might travel during a holiday but lots of people don’t. Telling you’re on holiday might mean you’re home practically all the time.
10. Your Child’s Name
Identity thieves also target children. “Don’t use a child’s name in photo tags or captions,” writes Consumer Reports. “If someone else does, delete it by clicking on Remove Tag. If your child isn’t on Facebook and someone includes his or her name in a caption, ask that person to remove the name.”
Agreed, more or less. Posting photos of your children online in general can be considered a risk. There are many people who get turned on by children (which in my opinion is disgusting) and you might not want to let people take advantage of that. If in addition you let people know where you live and in which park your children play, you might put them into a risk. Not all people are evil and most people don’t have pedophiles as friends but if the updates and pictures are public, you have no idea who is watching your pictures.
However, if you have set your privacy settings correctly, there’s nothing wrong with posting your child’s picture online and tagging your children but you want to make sure you know who you share the picture with.
11. Your ‘Risky’ Behavior
There have been … reports that insurance companies may adjust users’ premiums based what they post to Facebook.
Disagree. This might be true in the US but in Finland that is not the case. For example my insurance, which covers accidents, covers things such as diving or bungee jumping. The insurance system is a bit different in Finland than in the US. Most insurance companies don’t have the time or the motivation the go through people’s updates on Facebook and check if they do something “risky”. In Finland most of the insurance companies aren’t even using social media actively yet.
12. The Layout Of Your Home
Never post photos that reveal the layout of an apartment or home and the valuables therein.
Mostly disagree. There’s no point posting photos of the layout of your apartment or the valuables you have at home in public. It’s still good to remember that most people are not evil and are not interested in the layout of your apartment or what kind of stuff you have. Your friends might’ve even visited your apartment in which case they’ve seen the antique table you have, the layout of your apartment and they even know where you live! Facebook doesn’t make them robbers!
13. Your Profile On Public Search
Do you want your Facebook profile–even bare-bones information like your gender, name, and profile picture–appearing in a Google search? If not, you should should block your profile from appearing in search engine results. Consumer Reports advises that doing so will “help prevent strangers from accessing your page.”
Disagree. Being afraid of social media and being found online is common but there is no basis for it. For me, Google is part of my calling card. It is essential for me to be found on social media services with Google. Being found is not bad, it’s not the end of the world but in many cases it might actually help with several things. Online communication often means being found. That’s the risk you take when using social media services.
Facebook is not a dangerous place and especially not because of your friends. Bigger problems with Facebook are the security flaws they’ve had too many recently. There is a problem with for example companies not being allowed to hold competitions on their Facebook Page unless the competition is in it’s own application and the company promises to buy adverts from Facebook. Most of the adverts on Facebook are scams and that is why most of the adverts are ignored. No company in their right mind would put money on such advertisements.
The problem when talking about social media is – like I’ve said before – trying to scare people instead of telling about the the good things, which have happened because of Facebook. People find jobs and new friends on Facebook, they share information and often learn tons of new things! People keep in touch with distant relatives and friends from all around the world without it being extremely expensive and without even thinking about it. It’s good to be a little careful with your private information but there is no reason to panic.
Social media can be a useful tool for various things. I wish newspapers and bloggers would stop scaring people with it and start thinking about things in a realistic way with both good and bad things!
Ning Goes Buy-Buy April 16, 2010Posted by Karoliina Leikomaa in Shadow Karma.
I’m not using Ning for anything at the moment but I have and I know people who do. There is a bit charity-based project between going on, using Ning for various things. The project has several sub-projects and aim to increase the know-how of eLearning and entrepreneurship. All in all, the project is extremely great. Most (if not all) of the people working on the project are volunteers so they do not get paid for it (at least not much). The project is – as everything is – on a budget and they chose Ning because it was free and provided what they needed. I haven’t heard what they’re going to do about it but I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved to another service, which can be difficult because I don’t think Ning is going to make exporting the data easy in any way.
I’m sure there are several small charity and other projects, which use the free version. Even if the Premium users are the best source of income for the company, there is still no point in removing the free version. I wouldn’t pay for a web service just to see whether it’s good for whatever I’d need it for or not. I’d like to try it out first and then decide if it’s the service I need or not. Unfortunately that’s not something the “old school businessmen” think is good.
I believe for a web business to succeed, it must listen to the people who make it what it is – the users. Lots of companies have understood this and think it’s worth it to have a free service. It might be lacking some of the features the paid version has but it’s a working service anyway. It might have adverts (bringing money for the service) but it’s still working. If (and it seems when) Ning decides to remove the free version, they’re shooting themselves in their own foot. There are several opportunities Ning will be missing and it might not even be impossible for the whole service to be closed after a while because there just aren’t enough people willing (or able) to pay for it.