How Valuable is Your Online Privacy? Choose Your Virtual Friends Wisely

Any person with a television, an internet connection, and/or a means to access the news has heard something about online privacy issues. Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, or MySpace, spammers and con artists are roaming free. Just how much is your privacy important to you, and what are you doing to protect yourself?

I am astounded by some people’s casual approaches to online protection. It’s shocking to read about people who approve every online friend request they receive on their personal accounts, regardless of whether or not they know the requester (or even LIKE him or her). Why do people casually give profile access to strangers? To me, this seems like a pointless popularity contest rather than a legitimate attempt to stay in touch with your real friends while online.

Many times, if you’re not careful, spammers can infiltrate your profile just because ONE of your friends approved him or her. For example, a couple months ago, I received a Facebook friend request on my personal account from a person named “John Doe”; I don’t know anyone by that name. So, I checked to see if we had any friends in common (perhaps to give me a clue as to where I may know him) and found that we had 1 friend in common (let’s call her Martina). Since I still wasn’t familiar with “John Doe” after talking to our “mutual” friend Martina, I denied his request. Slowly but surely, this spammer sent friend requests to every person on Martina’s friend list, and many of them approved him because they saw there were a few “friends in common”. Well, needless to say, this error was eventually discovered (spam galore) and “John Doe” got deleted from almost everyone’s friend list…but it all could have been avoided if people had used caution in the first place!

Perhaps I’m just cautious, but I feel that I have a right to be. I don’t feel comfortable sharing my personal information with complete strangers, regardless of how many friends we have in common. My rule for personal accounts is this: If I don’t personally know the requester, then they get denied. I realize everyone is different, and that’s fine, but please remember to use caution – especially if you have sensitive information like phone numbers, addresses, etc. on your page! If you wouldn’t walk up to a random person on the street and give them your address or phone number, then you shouldn’t give strangers access to that information online, either!

Of course, Facebook accounts that are set up for businesses have different rulesI’m referring specifically to PERSONAL accounts in this blog.