Moms Unknowingly put their children at Risk

I know–you think I am crazy for my headline.  Mom’s wouldn’t do that, but it suddenly came to me today that we are putting so much information in one site that  Moms (and frankly, all of us) are quietly, and accidentally, putting their children at risk of “Identity theft.”  We have a trusting attitude about Facebook.  We don’t think about the ingenuity of those that seek to commit evil in the dark.  We share. We love. We risk all.

You may know that I am trying to leave Facebook (and if you read my posts, you know I proposed a way to ‘roll your own’ using existing social networking sites.)  The reason I am concerned about Facebook, and wanting to leave, is that I am tired of the constant push and pull.  They push the limits on protecting privacy, we push back, they pull back… They claim they own our photos, we push, they pull back… I am not surprised, though. They don’t view their users as their customers (we aren’t–the advertisers are) but they simply view their users as the generators of content that will drive advertising sales.

The problem is that I am not sure how many really understand the several layers of privacy that could be at risk.

And here is where Moms put their kids at risk.  You know that security question “What is your mother’s maiden name?” Well… with so many women including there maiden name on facebook (“hey–my old friends can find me easier!”) it may actually put their childrens’ identity at risk.[1.  Of course, there are many other security questions that are often used.  Pet’s name.  Phone number. Favorite color.  How many of those have you seen as information on Facebook–and when you put the information up there, did you think about the security questions you may have answered in the past? I know I didn’t.]  I suppose this wouldn’t be a problem, so long as we make sure we don’t connect to our parents/siblings, and so forth.  But we share the information (Maiden name) and the say “oh, here are my kids’ names, too.”

Quickly, let me say I am in no way really trying to blame moms for ANYTHING here.  It’s not the fault of Moms or the kids.   I suspect all of us are in a sense “guilty” here–we don’t think about how easily people can connect the dots on this information.

Part of the problem here is that we don’t fully understand how Facebook shares information.  Apparently, even if you only share your information with your friends, if the friends have their settings open to “everyone” then your information is exposed.

I wish we could trust people. I wish we could trust Facebook.  But in this world we must be cautious.


5 thoughts on “Moms Unknowingly put their children at Risk

  1. Very good points. Make me want to change all my information or not facebook at all. Scary stuff!

  2. I agree with your assertions on the dangers of sharing too much information on Facebook. I truly believe we have a responsibility to educate each other on how to protect your privacy and ensure that you are not giving away too much information. (Mothers and others)

    I don’t think leaving Facebook is going to change anything. The only way that would affect a change is if there was a mass exodus and I don’t see that happening until there is something global in place to fill the void. The best we can do is to cut down on what we share via Facebook. I do not list my children in my profile, even though three out of the four are online. In fact, I don’t list any of my family in my profile. I also do not share my birth year (although I did for a while) and I don’t share any of my real photographs, unless I have totally watermarked them in some way.

    I don’t trust Facebook with anything important, but it is a great tool to keep in touch with some people that I wouldn’t be in touch with without FB. Not everyone is on Twitter (and there are many who I would not like to connect with there even if they were on).

    I still say that the single most important thing we can do is stay educated and continue to educate others. Leaving isn’t the answer…right now, anyway.

  3. I understand what you are saying. What scares me is that I LIKE to think that I am a rather tech saavy, and cautious individual. And yet, it wasn’t until today that I realized just how at risk we are with what we probably consider to be “trivial information.”

    I also agree that we need to educate others (part of the reason for this blog post, AND for the strong action on the Facebook page–it started discussion!) Perhaps you could help further the discussion by posting a link to my blog somewhere? What are other ways you suggest for educating people? I am willing to join on.

    I think this will HAVE to be a topic for next week’s podcast. We talk about personal online security regularly, so check out and listen–or better yet, Tracy, let us know if you want to do a “guest appearance” to share your “real person” views about security on Facebook.

  4. Sorry it has taken me this long to respond. It was a busy weekend and the nice weather keeps calling me outside.

    I think discussion is good because it opens the door to others who might otherwise be totally ignorant through no fault of their own. The world has changed and many don’t realise it. I would be happy to post links to your blog to keep the conversation going. BTW, did you see the latest from Facebook. It was a non-apology for what they have done and an outline of what they plan on doing next. I still don’t think they get it, but they do know they have to make changes to address some of the issues and concerns. By no means is this a time to let the guard down. They have definitely lost the trust of many people and I don’t as yet see any indicators to show that they are even trying to earn it back.

    As for a guest speaker on your podcast, that would be great. Let me know.

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