Are We That Desperate For Friends?

Time and time again I’m totally amazed at how much personal information people will hand-out to complete and utter strangers.  A study by Sophos showed that on Facebook around 45% of people will accept invites from totally unknown people with rubber ducks as their profile pictures.

And what stuns me is that a whopping 89% of twenty-somethings willingly handed over their full date of birth.  The 50-somethings wern’t much better at 57%.

Hello?  Anyone got a clue?  Complete stranger asking for your DoB?  Are you really that desperate for friends?

So, if you’re a savvy geek, make sure that your friends, relatives, children get a clue.

– Only accept invites from people you know

– Don’t hand out personal info.

– Understand how the privacy controls on the social networking site work

– And just because the site wants to know something, you don’t have to fill it in or even tell the truth!

Social Websites Take Control of Your Personal Identity

I have surrendered control of my personal identity to the internet. I was listening to an audio book the other day when the author said, “The internet never forgets.”  Once identityyour information is on the web it is there for good.  Think of the information social websites like MySpace and Facebook has.  You upload your pictures, reveal your emotions in status updates, write notes, comment on other people, etc.  Every friend of yours sees and reads all that information.  They download your photos and re-write your thoughts.  If you blog then portions, if not all, of your site will be held in cache somewhere in the world forever.  The internet never forgets.

The web is like a data miner pulling bits of information from you and then reassembling them through Google.  It makes me wonder how much longer security questions for websites will even work.  I think everyone probably knows my mother’s maiden name by now.  What I am getting at is this: I have surrendered control of my personal identity to the internet.  Or perhaps, the social websites slyly took it away from me.  I thought the social web was helping me connect with other people, but it really was stripping me of control.

As diligent as I am about revealing information about myself on the web, I am afraid that I have lost control of my identity.  Will the day come when we need the equivalent of a DMCA takedown for personal information?  Who really owns the right of displaying that personal information?  The greatest form of identity theft may not be the loss of my bank information but the loss of my ability to control my basic identity.