|Facebook Like Thumb, Source: Wikimedia Commons|
Most people on social sites such as Twitter or Facebook are actually fairly truthful about their identities. However they also share much of their information publicly. In a survey 60% of teenagers stated that they were completely comfortable with their Facebook privacy settings and only 2% stated that they found the privacy settings ‘difficult’. However it was also found that teens with 600 or more facebook ‘friends’ also shared, on average, more private or personal information about themselves while people with 50-150 ‘friends’ were 7% less likely to share their real name and 14% less likely to share the city or town that they lived in. People with 600 or more ‘friends’ are also 24% more likely to post their phone number. (Pew)
However perverts and rapists have been notorious for using social sites to form digital relationships with minors. These criminals can get close to people without even revealing their true identities or intentions. for instance in 2010 a UK man was charged with sexually abusing hundreds of children over digital media and even confessed to having set up ‘meetings’ with the children he was harassing.(Lavrusik) Police can use this to catch potential rapists Operation Cardea was used by Florida PD to catch 50 men of 19-60 years old from various ethnicities and backgrounds. These men believed they were going to have sex with minors as young as 11.(Cardea) This really emphasizes how people will do drastic things such as hooking up with people they may not even know in person simply over trust given online.
Criminals have used digital relationships to get close to their potential victims and learn private information and even their victims movements and location. Digital Relationships can be a way for criminals to find potential targets for burglary as well. Burglars can “cyber case” (Boone)houses. For example if a person says “We are all going on vacation for a week” Then the burglar knows that the house will be empty for a long time and that it would be an easy target. (Boone) People have been often known to be foolish enough to add people that they don’t know on Facebook(Pew) or publicly display inside views of their houses as well as their current location, their address, etc.(Boone) All of this information could be tools for a potential burglar who can now easily scope out a house without even having to leave their home.
All of this crime and sexual assaults could be avoided if people simply did not share as much personal information on public social sites where they have countless relationships in which people share extremely personal information with people that they barely know. Digital relationships are already becoming safer with 71% more people 18-29 year-olds limiting what they share on public sites.(Lavrusik) However the change for a safer digital world in which people do not have to fear posting things about themselves is in the hands of the ordinary person who chooses to be safe and smart for the good of themselves and their ‘friends’.
It is incredibly important for people to be more careful and think about what information they post online with the idea of who might read it. Posting on Facebook is often very public and being careful about what you post can protect you and your family from criminals who use the internet to hurt people and to gather information to use against people. I was very shocked that the more 'friends' people had the more publicly they shared their personal information. I had thought that the opposite was true and am happy that I received a comment asking about it. People should be more mindful about what they post to make the internet a safer place for everyone. Not a place where criminals use the internet to track down their victims. Thank you for reading and commenting.