This is the second part of the Online Privacy series. I suggest you read the introduction before reading this but that’s up to you.
Self-contributed data can be the holy grail to a Private Investigator if you are something like a “tweetaholic” (compulsive twitter user) or a facebook addict. Although facebook has privacy settings, if this isn’t set correctly then it’s as good as publicly broadcasting your life. I know that adjusting your privacy settings can be a painful and confusing experience.
I personally have a public twitter account and a custom privacy configured facebook account. Twitter is officially labelled as a micro-blogging service rather than a social network as it lets someone sum up a point of time in their life in 140 characters. So you are probably thinking why do I use twitter when I am writing about privacy? Well, I personally use twitter to tweet about trending topics and technology and I don’t really talk about stuff that is personal to me such as family, where I live (or tweet with geolocation when I tweet from home). I guess where I do fail is when I complain about stuff I see in the outside world such as the trains I catch as that could lead a Private Investigator, stalker to understand my daily routine making it easy to find me.
I see many people tweeting about their insecurities which is gold for a stalker as they could potentially study you and adapt their approach to meet you and pretend they are very like you which could potentially lead to a moment of your life to regret.
Tweeting something like “I’m 25 today!” instantly gives a fraudster your date of birth.
This is something you have control over and it is easy to improve. If you wish to improve your privacy in this sense then I suggest you make your account private or do not tweet about personal stuff. Also remove any tweets personal about you. Unfortunately, when it comes to twitter, there are third party services out there which caches your tweets making it difficult to get rid of.
In terms of facebook, I suggest you run over your privacy settings ensuring only people you trust can see your social updates. After all there are settings that lets you make things public which could be enabled by accident. I actually tier my friends as to how personally I know them and how much of my life I want to share with them.
Pictures of yourself is also the holy grail for a Private Investigator (someone who potentially knows where you live and is sitting in their car waiting for you to leave from your house). They know what you look like as they have a picture of you.
Unfortunately, if you have already put a picture of yourself up on the internet it is difficult to rectify but you could privatise your picture on facebook & use another picture on twitter to help increase the difficulty for someone to Investigate you.
I am personally not too troubled about this as I don’t think there will be a need of a PI or stalker to be on my case. The only thing I’m concerned is having family pictures on the internet just in case some nut case decides to do the worst. Again, on facebook you can privatise albums to only be viewed by trusted people to prevent this from happening or at least increase the difficulty of someone finding personal pictures. I’d just remove them.
Like I spoke about when geolocating your tweets, this can help a PI, stalker or fraudster deduce your movements. This could also be when you check in on facebook, foursquare, instagram or Google Plus. I suggest that you do not post any routine locations online or where you live.
Everything written above is something which you as an internet user can control and can help fix to a certain degree. It is personally up to you how much you wish to put on the internet about yourself. I suggest you keep it to a minimum though. If you want to be completely free from the online world, I guess you can delete any social accounts you have altogether and hope for it to propagate over the world.
Next I will be writing about how you can help improve your online privacy against people who put information about you on the internet.