Facebook folly and naivety lead to Internet stalking
We all have one. Let’s face it, who doesn’t?
A Facebook profile, about as common as Keystone Light here at Syracuse University, has become a trend that doesn’t seem to be fading any time soon.
While it appears to be a great way to further friendships and meet new people within your network or local area, students rarely take a moment to stop and consider the possible consequences of this Web site dedicated to social expansion.
Millions with a Facebook account list personal information on their page: name, school, birthday, dorm, etc. Seems pretty harmless, right? But then some also list screen names, e-mail addresses and sometimes even cell phone numbers. All of a sudden, a member’s information becomes a lot more accessible than they had intended. Put this information together with the hundreds of tagged photos with friends, and a random person can find you with just the click of a mouse.
The term ‘Facebook stalking’ doesn’t nearly have the same intimidating connotation as ‘Internet predators’ does. That’s because most have called themselves Facebook stalkers a time or two, like when we ‘friended’ that cute guy from the party last Saturday night or asked for help studying from the girl in our French class. We read all about their likes and dislikes, look at their applications and compare ourselves to others, looking for common ground. The term is so often in a joking manner our generation forgets how serious the issue has become.
When on Facebook, it’s easy to forget there is a real person on the other end of that cable line. We decide to post photo albums filled with crazy pictures and fill in our contact information, allowing people to find us. Unfortunately, it’s commonly forgotten that this information is just as readily available to those whose attention we don’t intend to draw.
‘I have all my [personal] information on my page,’ freshman Sierra Fogal said, an entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises major. ‘I don’t think about it much, but I probably should.’
Facebook currently has more than 15 million members, half of which are college students, according to statistics reported by the Web site. And once we accept these people as our friends, our information is totally available to them.
Any person that uses some form of news outlet on a daily basis will hear regularly about the dangers of Internet predators and the danger of Facebook stalkers. While these stories seem isolated and irrelevant to many of us, they are perfect examples of what can happen if students are not more careful.
Though he has posted personal information onto his profile, freshman Jason Lee has taken advantage of the privacy application available to Facebook members, known as the ‘limited profile’ option. By taking such simple precautions, one is following the most basic steps for online self defense. The safest course of action would be to totally erase all contact information from your profile. However small and meaningless they seem, these preventative measures could play a significant role in maintaining your safety on campus.
Allie Goumas is a freshman political science major. Her columns appear weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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