Facebook Can Ruin Your Life

Isn’t it funny that we live behind closed doors but our private lives are wide open to the entire world? We cautiously block the window with thick curtains so people wouldn’t see what we are doing. We lock the door so no one could enter without permission. But then we sit comfortably on the settee and pouring ourselves and everything we have got out. Our next door neighbor wouldn’t know that I was away for 2 months, back to Indonesia and Vietnam. But the rest of the world can find out easily.

But we are not aware that information we share can be used against us.

Facebook can ruin your life. And so can MySpace, Bebo…

People will post just about anything on social networking sites. And the information can be used against them. David Randall and Victoria Richards report

Sunday, 10 February 2008

In the judicial backwater of a New Jersey federal court, a case is being heard that nominally affects two families but should also make millions of Britons think twice about something they do every day: put highly personal information on Facebook, MySpace or Bebo.
An American insurance company, in defending its refusal to pay out a claim, is seeking to call in evidence personal online postings, including the contents of any MySpace or Facebook pages the litigants may have, to see if their eating disorders might have “emotional causes”. And the case is far from a lone one. Suddenly, those saucy pictures and intimate confessions on social networking sites can be taken down and used in evidence against you in ways never dreamed of.

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I have noticed how powerful the social networking websites are. Now even politicians have their own official social websites, like Barack Obama.

When a British student was killed in Perugia, Italy, police uses her Facebook to trace her friends, her last activities and moments.

clipped from www.thesun.co.uk

Shortly before her death, Meredith posted dozens of pictures of herself laughing and hugging friends on her internet Facebook site. She was photographed at a Halloween party, smiling and joking with pals. They included her housemates Sophie Purton, Amy Frost and Robyn Butterworth.
In some, Meredith is wearing a vampire outfit with a long black cloak and choker, and fake blood painted round her mouth.
Pictures on Facebook entitled “Halloween Perugia Stylieeeeee” also showed her standing next to a man in a blood-covered Scream mask and another dressed as a policeman. Meredith revealed on Facebook she was due to return for her mother’s birthday next weekend.

She wrote: “Hey, i’m back for a bit in nov for my mum’s bday, 9th til the 14th. then back again for xmas around the 15th. “I am having a good time thanks, it’s starting to get really cold now tho but choc festival is on at the moment so just a good excuse to drink a lot of hot chocolate. How’s stuff at home?? xxx”

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Only last month an Australian teenager became a national headline when he was throwing a party that went out of control when 500 drunk partygoers started the mini riot. The saga was only ended after 30 officers, a helicopter and a dog squad were sent to his home to break up the rave, but the Australian teenager might have to pay £9,000 (USD 18,000) bill, charged by the Melbourne police. His only mistake? Sent out the invite through MySpace.

clipped from tvnz.co.nz

Corey couldn’t have picked a more popular bulletin board to advertise his hooley: internet social networking site MySpace, as well as mobile phone SMS – the Generation Y’s choice of invitation stationery.

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To learn more about the danger of social networking websites, click below links:

Personally, I’m about to erase my MySpace account, because I have had received so many trashy, rude messages. Now I am thinking about doing the same thing with Facebook, unless Facebook changes their security system, by adding the choice of showing pictures and personal data to public or only to certain friends. Or perhaps I’d just delete all personal informations and pictures, and stick to “Send the Cupcakes” or “You’re Hot!” applications….

Update 22 February 2008:
I have got a message from Sebastian Deschamps, who manages the website called Interexpat as below:

clipped from www.facebook.com

After having my account disabled (not suspended) for more than 48 hours, I realized how much Facebook had control over the information and content we have on the Platform. I was literally sucked out, all my conversations, photos, friends were erased.

This was due to a over using the Facebook group creation feature, although they had warned me a month ago, I didn’t think it would fall without a last minute warning. This got me to think about the overwhelming power of facebook over its user’s data and the security concerns it creates.

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  1. Anita, I am one of the few who is not thrilled to friendster, myspace or facebook. I know they are a great place for cyber social networking but how would you know the person at the other side of the world is for real? People can create a dozen accounts with unverified e-mail accounts, pretend they’re in college when they’re 80 years old, etc. I have a friendster and facebook account out of invitation from friends but I rarely used them. The only public sphere I keep updating is my blog.

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  3. Wow, this is freaky! I do make sure to hide my social networks to the general public, but I’m sure there are ways to hack into them one way or another. Makes you think twice of what you want to put in your profiles!

  4. Eh? There is a feature in Facebook to hide your personal information so that only your approved friends can view them – I think it’s in the Privacy section of the Home page.

    But from your inserted news, Social Networking sites can be either good or bad, depends on how people use it for :)

    I personally think it’s a good idea for people to display their real photos in the Profile area instead of an Avatar, because an Avatar tends to mean they are too shy to show themselves to the [virtual] world, let alone the real world!

    When Elyani pointed out ‘how would you know the person at the other side of the world is for real’ I think this can be applied for anything, even blogs. There are even some blogs out there who truly disguise the author’s identity, gender and what-elses. This might affect the credibility of their writing.

    But after reading this post Anita, I do admit I have changed my Privacy settings in Facebook to be even MORE private he3x.

    Successful writing indeed!

  5. Jennie S. Bev says:

    There are many hidden legalese in the T&C of those social networking sites. I no longer use them. It would be best to be cautious. Great job with this posting.

  6. I think the control still in our hand, if we didn’t put up too much personal information to any of this social network we should be fine.

    As Therry says, we could choose the very very private setting for our profile page.

    Same thing with blog, it’s up to us how much we want to reveal ourself to the world. That’s why some blog doesn’t put up any of their picture just to keep it anonymous.

    But I was thinking to delete myspace account too though, I just simply ignore all those trashy messages :)

  7. Friendster got hacked too many times, so I stopped using it. MySpace, it hurts my eyes! But I don’t know why, people actually recommend Facebook.

    Being cautious is always a good thing. That’s why there’s nothing there that concerns private stuffs or my personal life–if I still have any!, lol. Just friends poking each other for the fun of it. All the randomness of life above the surface: A simulacra, as I’ve once elaborated in my blog.

    There are the good parts and the bad parts of all things of course. All depends on how we measure ourselves. As implied by therry and ecky: Are we in control of this or not?

  8. But I’ve wondered though.

    What is more life ruining?

    The overexposed Facebook–in which technically we can take control of it? Or people who are intentionally making others feel guilty of owning one?

    I believe the latter is scarier. Really.

  9. @Marisa:

    I feel guilty 😛

    It’s so addictive. Argh.

    But then again, maybe it will be just like Friendster was for me; a temporary social networking site that will bore me out sooner or later which will then replaced by another, much cooler social networking sites.

    And by the time that happens I’ll have like ten accounts on ten different social networking sites.

    Ok, maybe I should delete Friendster account now.

  10. as they say facebook = fakebook ?

  11. sakuralady says:

    Hi Anita.. I have quite the same trouble things.. But later, like in friendster, you can keep it as private profile, you can set nobody can rate the photo, etc .. In facebook, I also did quite the same thing.
    In cyber world, I still believe that giving too much personal things will turn out to be risky..

  12. Same like Elyani, am not thrilled with friendster. Tried myspace but I have deleted bcoz of the harashment messages. But Facebook, I do love it, because the control of our privacy is in our own. Besides the gig things, where I can play around :-) Silly huh ? LOL

    It maybe dangerous for the teenager because they don’t know how it will affect them if they always accept everyone to become their friends.

    As Ecky said, it’s always depends on ourselves ..

  13. nadia febina says:

    anita.. your posting is quite an eye-opener. I might consider to delete my account in fs but maybe not in facebook for the poking and food war features, hehe.

    what about putting pictures in blog.. or too much opinion in blog..? i found that companies tracked down our existence in www, especially if you just gone through an interview. The way you describe what your point of view in blog or how you handle things in certain situation (that you write in your blog) tells more than enough about your personality.

    Isn’t that also scary? Hmmm…
    *i’m starting to think about my blog now…*

  14. Anonymous says:

    I think a blog with real pictures and real stories and comments is way more dangerous than a friendster or facebook account. Do you ever think of it that way? I consider blogging to be very risky and make yourself overly exposed. Your blog, Anita, somewhat reveals many things about you and everyone can see and read it. It got pictures of you and your husband, reveals where you live, what your activities are, your inner thoughts, etc. etc. so, it’s kind of weird when you write about facebook or friendster that way and not at all put a comment on the safety of blogging.


  15. Finally Woken says:

    @Anonymous a.k.a Bella: It’s true, but the information I reveal here is selectively controlled. For example, yes you know my name, but you don’t know where I live except the city. Any information that can be used for fraud, I hope, is being kept away. You know my activities, yes, but unless you’re a sociopath who would wait for me in the dark aisle, you wouldn’t be able to use the information for your benefits, like trying to identify my routine (can you?). You know my public email address but not the other addresses I use for personal or business purposes. I certainly never invite people to my house using social websites like the idiot Australian teenager.

    I admit I am concern with the pictures, but not what I put here, but on other sites like slide, flickr and facebook. I’m still thinking about the best way to keep them online so my family and friends can see them, but keep them very private so other cannot access them.

  16. Anonymous says:

    “It’s true, but the information I reveal here is selectively controlled”
    (true, so do the information cautious people put on their friendster/facebook/whatever)

    “For example, yes you know my name, but you don’t know where I live except the city”
    (also true for friendster/facebook/whatever)

    “You know my activities, yes, but unless you’re a sociopath who would wait for me in the dark aisle, you wouldn’t be able to use the information for your benefits, like trying to identify my routine (can you?). You know my public email address but not the other addresses I use for personal or business purposes. I certainly never invite people to my house using social websites like the idiot Australian teenager.”
    (exactly the same for those on friendster/facebook)

    plus friendster/facebook could be made private, I don’t know bout blog, but I guess blogs are made for whoever to read or is there a privacy setting? you never know which of your opinion could end up being made against you.

    so it’s a matter of being careful and when it comes to information (pictures/opinion/data/etc) put on the net, everything could be used. blogging carries the same risk with having an account on facebook.


  17. Finally Woken says:

    Hi again Bella.
    Actually in Facebook, if you’re not cautious or careful, you could end up revealing too much. For example, in the profile you could choose whether you would like to reveal your date of birth or not (this is an information bank usually asks to confirm your identity). People who are not careful just put their date of birth open to everyone. In blog, there’s no box you have to fill up re.your age.

    In contact, Facebook provides boxes/options re. your postcode – if you live abroad you would know that once people type the postcode in the system they could find which street and house number you live in. There are options for landline and mobile phones as well. I see some of my friends actually fill those boxes in!

    If you read the articles I attach on my posting you would find out more about the danger of Facebook or other social network websites. Some articles describe how easy for them to be someone’s friend and based on the information provided they could hack the person’s bank account.

    Unless you put the details in your blog re. your house address, your date of birth, your mother’s maiden name, or all security questions bank usually ask you, having your opinion published would do no harm so I don’t think blog carries the same danger as social websites.

  18. I don’t know, I don’t think that social networking sites are any less dangerous than the internet or buying things online, or using paypal etc. I have friendster, myspace and facebook, but I don’t give our my address, date of birth etc. Pictures I have no problem with, being the exhibitionist that I am, but private details I keep to myself. But then again, I wont be sucked into paranoia of anything. We just have to be careful, that’s all.

  19. Finally Woken says:

    @Rima: only yesterday my friend told me that he did a phising on friendster, and only in a few hours he could retrieve over 500 passwords from users (and most users use their friendster password=email password, so imagine that he could open up people’s entire lives!). He said friendster has so many security holes. He hasn’t tried facebook yet.

  20. rimafauzi says:

    well, that’s the thing. we have to be careful and smart. dont use the same passwords for e-mail and social networking sites, and use ingenuity when choosing passwords, not the obvious. for example mix english and indonesian or javanese or sundanese etc, with numbers and characters.. and pof course, change them periodically..
    that’s what i do and so far (thank God) i have never had trouble..

  21. I like social networking and God knows how many of them I have an account in, hehehe…

    That aside, I’m concerned about the fact that many people are actually not aware of (or don’t pay enough attention to) the danger of revealing too much information on their personal web! Give your nick name, don’t put personal telephone numbers, and no, you need NOT tell anyone what are you doing at the moment. You may inform your friends or colleagues on your whereabouts by making phone calls, texting, or sending emails. NOT announcing it in your Facebook.

    And having several emails is pretty easy, even if the connection sucks. I don’t understand why there are people who still list their office email address in a mailing list. An office email address is for office thingies, period. Get 5, 11, 37 yahoo/ hotmail/ aol/ gmail addresses if you want to, keep the different passwords safe, change them periodically, etc. (as has been suggested by previous posters here).

    I’m rambling already. Well, in short, yes, I agree Facebook (or friendster/ myspace/ multiply/ mailing lists, for that matter) can ruin your life, if you allow it by acting carelessly. Heck, even if you are extremely careful there are always loopholes, but you can prevent it to a certain degree.

  22. Rishardana says:

    Facebook already ruined my life :(

    I’ve missed several deadlines and basically having a downgraded performance in the office due to poking friends, warbook, and like all those crazy addictive apps in there.

    Very good article though, Mbak :)


  1. […] have posted an article about how Facebook and other social networking websites can be dangerous (I’m so close to become a Scramble addict, but now put much less information on my profile). […]

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