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Hi, I’m your Facebook friend Charles Mabbett
11 June 2014

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If two YouTube videos constitute a trend, then these two demonstrate how people need more reminders about the dangers of having loose privacy settings when posting personal information on Facebook and their other social media profiles.

In both videos, the hapless rubes are approached by people pretending to be long-lost friends but were actually strangers who had been matching location settings to individuals at chosen locations. It wouldn’t work with people with nailed down privacy settings but in these cases, those that were duped had left the front door wide in their social media settings, inviting these kinds of surprises. 

In the first video, an internet security company called Experian with a product called IdentityProtect, used the lesson to advertise its service. In the video, it used hired actors to convince strangers in a bar that they were old acquaintances.

In another similarly executed video, an American comedian, Jack Vale, “freaked people out by making them think I knew personal information about them!” That information, of course, was gleaned from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

The lesson here is to be careful and take a close look at who can see the stuff you post about yourself. Don’t just make one check on your privacy settings. Our advice – and these are among others on our Tips For Online Privacy card – is “understand your privacy settings because service providers often change them” and “remember what you post online should be treated as public information”.

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For copies of our Tips For Online Privacy card, email us at enquiries@privacy.org.nz.

[Images by Chris Slane - www.slane.co.nz]

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