Are Your Facebook Activities Putting You at Risk?

Education & Training with Zillow Group Mortgages

Are you practicing safe habits on Facebook?

In light of the Equifax cyber-security breach and all of the madness that has ensued since, I've been calling into question so many of the activities I perform online. How many of my day-to-day online activities - through Facebook, Gmail, various websites, etc. - are leaving me vulnerable to identity theft and hacking?

One of the observations I've made about Facebook in particular is how freely people share their information. Chain surveys and quizzes have people answering questions about childhood memories, favorite things and preferences, family members, and so on. While Facebook has significantly improved on their privacy and security protocols over the years with better options to lock down what information you want to share, it may still not be enough, especially if you are unaware of these settings or befriend someone with malicious intentions.

There are several applications, websites, and services that allow you to sign up and log into your accounts using your Facebook account - things like Tinder, various games, mobile apps, browser widgets, Instagram, and so on.  Facebook prompts you to look over the permissions you give to those services, but most people bypass these to get back to their intended purpose: access the account or service they are seeking.

Some precautionary advice on what you should be mindful of when it comes to Facebook and online sharing:

1. Make sure that what you share isn't sensitive information. Every post has a share button and while you may be posting to an audience of only your friends, this may not be enough if you have followers or a friend who has had their account hacked. Privacy settings don't prevent your post from being seen by non-friends in all cases.


2. Family features - it's cool to designate people as your family members, but there are some risks here: A) family/maiden names - don't banks ask you for your mother's maiden name?  B) Public declarations of who your family members are could expose you or others to phishing attempts for more info.


3. We've all seen those status updates where people copy/paste a survey/quiz and fill it out with their own responses. Or, worse, they share someone else's public post and add their own answers to their update. The answers to these questions could be answering the very same security questions you set up on your financial accounts. Things like, first/favorite pet's name, oldest niece's name, family names, first car, elementary schools, favorite books, high school mascots, etc. can be used to hack your accounts.


My biggest advice: think critically about what you are posting and to whom. Just because your account is private doesn't mean it will stay private.


Good luck and have a Rain-tastic day!


Comments (3)

William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

In this day and age I can not believe people announce when they will be on vacation.  may as well leave the doors unlocked!

Sep 21, 2017 06:07 PM
Mary Weiss

I tend to wait until I get home to post my vacation pictures for this reason... that, and I just want to enjoy my time away without thinking about social media.

Sep 22, 2017 07:59 AM
Liz and Bill Spear
Transaction Alliance 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
Transaction Alliance Cincinnati & Dayton suburbs

Mary, There's a lot on social media that people do that doesn't make much sense if they stopped and thought about it. 

Sep 22, 2017 06:35 AM
Mary Weiss

I admit that I used to post more information and share things that I shouldn't have been until earlier this year. I realized it probably wasn't a good idea as I was getting more and more friend requests from people I didn't know. I stripped my profile down to the very basics, removing everything except a few things. I don't even post my employer anymore.  It makes me feel a little better, although not 100% safe. 

Sep 22, 2017 08:34 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

These are great tips!  It is pretty sad that we live in such an unsafe world these days.

Sep 22, 2017 10:44 AM
Mary Weiss

Thank you! I feel like there are so many more things I could have written about in terms of Facebook's privacy settings. I may end up with some follow-up posts. :-)

Sep 22, 2017 10:47 AM