Unknown Friends?


Image from: https://frettboard.com/beware-facebook-friends-robots-sell-stuff/

So, you’ve got your Facebook account locked down with all the privacy settings on and reckon your personal information and digital footprint are safe.

Now ask yourself – do I really know all my “friends”?

Collecting “friends” is very popular in social media.  According to a recent US study the median teenager has 300 facebook friends (http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Teens-Social-Media-And-Privacy/Summary-of-Findings.aspx).

Similar numbers apply to other social media and this reflects the approach many young people take – max your contacts.  There is one major limitation to this – it means you have connections who can see all your posts and personal information and you have never met them, and neither have your real friends.  So who are they really – can you be sure?  As a rule of thumb if you have not physically met someone they should probably not be “friended”.  Otherwise how can you vouch for them.   This is less a problem if you treat your account as public and are careful what information you share and what you post.

According to the study teens are increasingly sharing their personal information.  This is less of an issue if they have 30-40 “friends” and know who they are.  But what about the random friends they do not know?  Talk to your child and ask them which of their friends they actually know.  Ask them how they would feel if that 14 year old boy turned out to be 50; or if their home was burgled while the family was on holiday.  If one of your friends is not who they claim then all your personal stuff – your pictures, contacts, location, date of birth, telephone number, school…  they are all public.

Some of your friends may not even be real people!: