Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Dangers of Sharing Information

You guys, it's been a while.

I'll be honest and say that I've been struggling emotionally and mentally, but that is neither here nor there. It's just a truthful statement about where I've been in reference to my absence from this blog. But that's not the point of today's post.

Let's talk about internet safety and social media.

Today Patrick and I received a Christmas card in the mail that was addressed to the previous tenants at our apartment. So what does my crazy husband do?

He looks up the last tenants on Facebook.

I had a Facebook. I have an Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Tumblr. I'm probably on another few less popular social media accounts . But here's the thing: my Facebook, Instagram, and one of my Twitters (one is more frivolous and the other is for more serious stuff) are all on lock down.

Were I still on Facebook and we were not friends, you would find the following information about me: One profile photo, one cover photo, that I am married to my husband, and that my last name changed from Gasser to Powers. That's it.

Were I still on Facebook and we were friends, you would find the following information: The same info listed, plus my past posts. You can't see my friends, my past employment history, my school history, or where I live. I'll also be honest and say that I used to list all of that information, but that was until I learned how it could be used against me. And this is certainly not to brag; it's a comparison... because listen to this.

In a matter of less than five minutes, Patrick was able to find out the following information by just doing a Facebook search on the last tenants:

- The reason they moved out was because they had a baby
- The baby's full name and DOB
- That the woman who lived here had a problem with the same neighbors that we had a problem with when we moved in.
- The woman's birthday, where she works and for how long she's been there, where she goes to school and what she's studying, how old she is, that she's religious, that she used to be a party girl, that she is trying to be healthier, that she's looking into daycare for her son and she lists which daycare (keep in mind that we were easily able to find out the baby's name), that she sells Lularoe, where she was originally from and where she lives now, that she enjoys going to a specific farmer's market around here, and MUCH MORE.
- Where the guy was originally from, that he races cars, likes "bad" music (Patrick's opinion), he's into guns.

If we had wanted to take it any further, we could found them on other social medias and we could have looked up public court records as well, because those are free to access if you find the right links and have names.

So this is an obvious a problem that a lot of people don't realize we have. Can you imagine how helpful all of that information would be to someone more malicious? To someone with ill intentions?

Even if you think that you're being safe with your information, take another look. Check to see what people can see publicly on your own social medias AND your kids' social medias. have a calm conversation about why you're doing this and why it's a real concern.

In this same realm of concern, check to see what information your car is sharing. That's right, your car. The other day when Patrick and I were driving, we saw a woman driving a car with two window decals on the back windshield, one for her son and one for her daughter. And just by glancing at those stickers, we knew that the kids were in high school (and therefore we had an age range), which high schools they went to, their NAMES, the boy's jersey number for football, the girl's cheerleading team, and that they were likely well-off because the car was nice and the schools were private schools. I also draw a lot of information from those stick figure decals as well-- how many people there are in your family, if you have a dog at your home that I need to be worried about, the approximate ages of your children and usually their sexes.

It's all information that someone can use in a bad way, and I can understand a person's want to brag and share their beautiful family, I mean even I have this blog and it's not in any way protected, but it's pretty hard to find unless you have the link.

When I was a single woman I was so paranoid about what I left out in my car, and that paranoia only worsened to the point where eventually I removed every single visible trace that I was a woman and what my age was (which meant taking down my graduation tassel from my review mirror and hiding my college notebooks/textbooks, in addition to everything else). When people know information about you, they can target you. You don't necessarily need to be scared or paranoid, but do try not to let these people use your information against you. And while you're at it, watch a few episodes of Criminal Minds. Maybe fear is what some of us need.