Privacy issues and identity theft in social media are a growing concern. Most people who post their personal information about themselves do not recognize the potential consequences of their actions, or maybe they simply don't care if their entire life is an open book.
Ask yourself, should the director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, which is responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior U.S. policymakers, including the President, and who manages the operations, personnel, and budget of the CIA, have a Facebook page? Should his wife? Sir John Sawers is the incoming head of MI6, essentially the British equivalent of the CIA. His wife posted sensitive personal information to her Facebook page, including the address of the couple's London apartment and the locations of their children and Sir John's parents. She also posted family photos that included her half-brother, who was an associate and researcher for a historian who has been convicted of Holocaust denial. Her Facebook profile was left open to anyone in the London network.
Patrick Mercer, Conservative chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism subcommittee, has pointed out that these types of Facebook postings leave Sir John Sawers open to criticism and potentially, blackmail. "We can't have the head of MI6 being compromised by having personal details of his life being posted on Facebook," Mercer told The Times. "As a long-serving diplomat and ambassador, his family has been involved in his line of business for decades. I would have hoped they would have been much more sensitive to potential security compromises like this."
Would it be okay for U.S. CIA director Leon Panetta or his wife to post their addresses, vacation photos, childrens' names and other personal data on Facebook? No! Is it okay for you to do it? You say, "Well, I'm not the director of the CIA." While you may not be a high profile target, you can still be a target on some level, and the more intelligence you make available to potential attackers or criminal hackers, the easier you make it for them to harm you. Nobody ever considers themselves a target until it's too late. I'm not a paranoid freak, I'm a grounded, down-to-earth, conscious being with an awareness of what's going on out there. And when I see you post information that someone sinister could use against you, I worry.
If you use social media and regularly update your status or profile with pictures, video, or information about your whereabouts or daily routines, please keep the following advice in mind:
Social media is less than six years old. This is a brand new medium, and we are just now beginning to recognize its potential consequences. Something as harmless as a picture of a baby in a tub could be traded online by pedophiles. The world is changing. Be aware of your social media use, and be smart about it.
Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses social media on Fox.