Social media has a creep factor

Source: Mashable, screen shot from “Take this Lollipop” Facebook appHe has 654 friends. He has been to a variety of sports venues, restaurants and museums through his travels (the menu at Husk looks divine, but not nearly as good as Sarabeth’s brunch plates). He also “Likes” companies like Land’s End, Nordstrom and The North Face. Using a couple of targeted searches with Facebook’s Graph Search, I can easily gather information on Jon Newman’s personality, preferences and interests. [Editor’s note:  Okay, you’ve got my attention. — JN]

With all that’s out there on the internet, some people may see this information and leverage it for their benefit, for example as helpful fodder in an informational meeting or job interview. Others, however, could use this information and leverage it to steal his identity.

Have you ever accepted a friend request from someone you vaguely remember from a cocktail party, or panicked over an email from your bank saying your account has been compromised? Responding to these requests could land you in hot water. Identity theft is no laughing matter (well, except if Melissa McCarthy is involved). To see how quickly your information could be compromised, check out this ad from Belgium on how easy it is for thieves to not only take over your financials, but literally take over your life.

While this ad portrays theft via Facebook, it isn’t the only creepy culprit out there. Any social media platform where you reveal personal information, clues to your personality and behaviors or your whereabouts could lead to voyeuristic, bizarre and eerie behavior. Buzzfeed compiled a list of the 11 creepiest things about LinkedIn, in which the author pointed out instances where a user emailed and tweeted personal contacts which LinkedIn later recommended they connect with. The user’s Twitter account was NOT synced with the professional networking platform.

Moving from creepy online behavior to the stark, scary reality, criminals have taken to social media to help survey properties before robbing them, utilizing tools like Facebook, Foursqaure and Google Map’s Street View.

Don’t think your profile is susceptible to internet trolls? Check out this gem of a Facebook app that puts you in the shoes of someone who is being lurked upon. If you don’t get the heebie jeebies from this, let me know and I’ll come check your pulse.

This blog post isn’t the first you’ve heard of social media, oversharing and crime (if it is, turn on the news every now and then), and surely it won’t be the last. But with all the warning signs, why are we still posting statuses like “Heading to Maui for two weeks” when you’re virtually saying “Heading to Maui for two weeks – feel free to break into my home and steal my prized possessions!”

Casey Prentice

A self-proclaimed organizational junkie and data geek who confesses to a secret desire to be a professional organizer, Casey enjoys account management, writing, editing and digital content strategy. Her agency work has helped clients like Virginia’s Community Colleges, VCUarts and Swedish Match.

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