Leaving your personal data open is not just annoying, it opens you up to strangers and advertisers harvesting your information to possibly do you harm.
If you’ve ever browsed for, say, wedding dresses online, you know that means your Facebook page will soon be filled with targeted ads for all things matrimonial.
Now, Facebook is advertising beyond its social platforms to the rest of the Internet, armed with your personal data.
Attila Seress, owner of SOS Tech Solutions, said you need to be very careful about what you post and who you “friend.”
“For years, Facebook has been this ubiquitous place where everyone can go and safely feel they can post their personal information without thinking about the consequences, and now that’s all changing,” Seress said.
Oversharing on Facebook can leave you vulnerable. “If you post pictures of your kids, vacation status, birthday, address, there’s not a lot much more needed to make you subject to identity theft or your home to be broken into.”
Friending total strangers also not advised. “Someone could be out to get you, and if you have thousands of friends, you can’t mentally keep a map of that. Make sure you only keep friends you really do have,” Seress said.
The good news is that you can turn off targeted ads. Go to your Facebook ad preferences setting and turn off what doesn’t apply to you. To be extra careful, you may want to remove your phone number, birthday, relationship status, location tracking, vacation announcements, pictures of your kids, and where they go to school.
Keep only real friends and know that strangers and advertisers may be harvesting your information to sell ads or do you harm.
If you have a consumer concern or if you’re interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, call 591-0222 weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or email firstname.lastname@example.org.