Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Abstinence is not a Solution

Facebook just announced 1 billion active users last week. One BILLION is an incredible number. There is hardly any other product in the world that has 1 billion customers. OK, maybe Coca-Cola but I don’t drink coke, I do Facebook...
We all know that Facebook and other social media revolutionized the social interactions between people. Social media enabled us to be much more connected with friends and create relationships with new people. Facebook makes things possible and easy that were not possible before. The announcement, however, prompted me to think about a neglected factoid: There are 7 billion people on the planet and if only 1 billion are on Facebook, what the heck are the other 6 billion doing?

Yes, sure, among those 6 billion are many babies and other folks who are not using any computer. But still, there must be at least 3 billion people that have so far resisted Facebook. WHY???

I have many such Facebook abstinents among my friends and no amount of encouragement has moved the needle so far. Usually, they tell me that they don’t want to waste their time on frivolous conversations about what people had for dinner tonight. Another common argument is the narcissistic nature of many of the Facebook posts - it is more about advertising yourself than any other cause. Yet, the most frequent argument against Facebook is security and privacy. Disclosing any kind of information in such public forum will ultimately compromise your privacy and security. Won’t it?

Well, I have some news for you, dear Facebook abstinents. One of the greatest security threats that you can expose yourself to is not being on Facebook. Surprised? I’m serious!

If you don’t claim your own identity on Facebook (and other social sites), you expose yourself to someone else doing it in your name. It is really easy today to join Facebook as John Smith with a validated email address on Gmail or Yahoo Mail. The bad guys can establish a pretty decent profile with pictures, engage with your colleagues from remote locations, and collect a lot of personal data about you from others. Before you know it, they can pretend to be you. This is social engineering in the social media world.

With Facebook Connect, it gets even scarier. Facebook Connect is increasingly the preferred method of authentication to many other sites and services. Now, the perpetrator who has stolen your identity on Facebook gets access to many other sites on the Internet - as you!

The moral of the story is very simple. As much as a you may not be a fan of Facebook, it is important to establish your own identity online. Because if you don’t do it, someone else might do it for you...

1 comment:

  1. Only about 1 billion people in the world have access to the Internet. So once you eliminate the spam accounts, duplicates, pets, etc., it's still pretty safe to say that the vast majority of people who can be on Facebook are on Facebook. With that said, you are right. It isn't really an option for most people to not be on Facebook. It's scary. I don't like the amount of power they have. But it is true.