UK Kids Warned MySpace Isn’t Private – OMG!!

UK Kids Warned MySpace Isn’t Private – OMG!!

James Niccolai, IDG News Service
Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:00 PM ET

Young people are compromising their career prospects and opening the
door to online fraud by posting personal information on social
networking sites without thinking about the consequences, a U.K.
privacy watchdog warned Friday.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has set up a Web site that
warns young Britons to take more care about the information they post
at sites like MySpace, Facebook and Bebo.

In a survey of people aged 14 to 21, the group found that more than
70 percent of young people would not want a university or potential
employer to see the information they post about themselves, yet 60
percent don’t consider that the information could turn up in online
searches for years to come.

The survey also found that two-thirds of young Internet users accept
people they don’t know to become "friends" on social networking sites,
and that 70 percent aren’t concerned if strangers can see the
information they post. That behavior leaves them ripe for online fraud,
the group said, since information they post could be used by identity
thieves to order credit cards, products and services.

Sixty percent of those surveyed reveal their date of birth online,
one in 10 give their home address, and 2 percent reveal their mother’s
maiden name. The information is based on a survey of 2,000 14- to
21-year-olds conducted in October by Dubit, which specializes in youth

The results were published the same week that Facebook came under
fire for a new feature, called Beacon, that reveals online services
that its members have been using outside Facebook. Designed as a
marketing tool for businesses, Beacon can show on a member’s Web site
the DVDs they have rented at a service such as Blockbuster, for example.

Users are warned when they make a purchase that the information will
appear on Facebook, but they have to actively opt out for each service
to stop that from happening. An advocacy group called Civic
Action said that’s an invasion of privacy, and set up a Facebook group
to protest it called "Facebook, stop invading my privacy!"

The push for greater vigilance with personal data also comes after
the British government admitted that it had lost computer disks
containing detailed personal information about 25 million Britons.

A spokeswoman at the Information Commissioner’s Office said the timing of its campaign was unrelated to those developments.

Its new Web site offers tips for young people to protect their
identity online, such as choosing Web sites that let them control who
can see their information, not revealing their home address, and not
using the same password they use for an online bank account.

The Commissioner’s Office published comments that it said were from
the people interviewed for its survey. A 14-year-old girl from Scotland
remarked: "Initial thoughts– who cares? Subsequent thoughts- omg!!"


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