We’re all social media pundits: we happily announce share our children’s activities and photos on Facebook, tweet to let people know when our favourite sports team has won (or lost) a match, tag our locations (whether on our own volition or by default) on Foursquare… the list goes on.
I do it too. It was only when writing an article for a magazine that I realised this is a major, major problem in the state of personal privacy today. while getting a quote out of a dad I was interviewing, I had to also find out the father’s and his children’s birthdates, so their ages could be accurately published when the article goes to print. My contact time with the interviewee was sporadic and limited, so I went and got hold of the required information through the Internet.
It was way too easy.
What worried me was that this is the same kind of information that banks use to verify customers over the phone, and depending on the security answers one provides online, much much more.
Here’s something to make you think: your friends will no doubt wish you happy birthday online when Facebook reminds them of the day. Doesn’t matter if you keep your birthday hidden; your well-intentioned friends will have effectively ratted on you. And if you just have your birthyear published on your Timeline, everyone will have your age down to the exact day.
And maybe Facebook may not have transcended into dual generational usage yet, but undoubtedly the trend has begun: if your children’s mum uses Facebook and she’s added as family; wouldn’t everyone then have your child’s mother’s maiden name for reference?
Geotagging posts are common on Twitter, Facebook, even your digital camera has in-built GPS to tag the location you took your photo for inclusion into its EXIF data, and accurate to 50 feet in a normal mobile phone setup. while this might take a bit more snooping for high-rise apartment dwellers, it can be quite easy to locate the address of landed property owners.
It takes a little effort to dig into such personal information, but again, it takes just a little. Banks may need to rethink their security and verification methods in time to come, but right now, you might want to rethink your family’s. This post is really for today’s dads, because it’s definitely going to directly impact your children’s security and online identity when they start getting their own bank accounts.
[Image via My eFacebook]