Stop before sharing your senior photo or taking a quiz on Facebook
It seems very counterintuitive to suggest you shouldn’t share on social media—after all, that’s why it even exists. But in some cases, sharing too much can increase your risk of being hacked or having your identity stolen.
In fact, there are two very popular kinds of Facebook trends going around right now that could get you in hot water.
There’s a new Facebook trend where people are sharing their senior photos with the hashtag #ClassOf2020. The goal is to share in support of the graduating class who are missing out on many traditional senior events due to the pandemic.
Sharing your funny and awkward senior pic may seem innocent enough, but the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns this is a bad idea. People are sharing their photo with what year they graduated and what high school they went to.
By searching that hashtag, scammers or hackers now know both of those pieces of information if they didn’t already. You might think, “who cares?”—but lots of us use that information in passwords or as answers to security questions. Even more, the BBB says, “all it takes is an internet search to reveal more information about you, such as family members, your real name, birthdate, and even where you live.”
Those details can in turn be used to craft targeted scams designed with little details about your life to make it seem real.
Do you have a tattoo? Where have you lived? What was your first car?
We’re all getting a little bored, so it’s tempting to do one of those frequently circulating posts where you answer questions about yourself. After all, you enjoy learning a few interesting details about your friends, so shouldn’t you return the favor?
No. No, you shouldn’t.
In the words of Lifehacker: “If you pay attention, however, you’ll notice that the answers to all those fun games are also the same things you might enter when you’re trying to verify your identity on a website in order to reset your password. When you post those answers on the internet, you’re making them easy for someone that isn’t your friend to find through a simple internet search and use against you.”
Also, be especially cautious of posts that encourage you to comment with your answers (rather than copying and pasting into a new post). If you comment on a post you didn’t know is public, then that information is extra “out there.” But, the safest thing to do is to simply steer clear of these question and answer games.
How you can stay safe
The BBB says you can help avoid social media scams with these tips:
- Be skeptical: Before you take a quiz, figure out who created it. Is it a brand you trust? Just because something appears to be fun and innocent, doesn’t mean there isn’t an inherent risk.
- Adjust privacy settings: Review your social media account’s privacy settings and be strict about what information you share—and be mindful of who you are sharing it with.
- Remove personal details from your profile: Don’t share information like your phone number or home address on social media accounts.
- Don’t give answers to common security questions: Be cautious if the questions in a quiz ask for things like your mother’s maiden name, street you grew up on, or the name of your high school.
- Monitor Friend Requests. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Also be wary of a second friend request from someone you are already connected with; the second profile may be an imposter trying to access your data and your Friends list.