NEW YORK (CBS 2) — If you think staying off popular social networking sites, like Pinterest and MySpace, will protect your privacy, think again. A new study found your personal information is often on these sites … even though you’re not.
Millions of people can’t imagine living without social networking, but others don’t want any part of it.
“I didn’t want to know the people in high school when I was in high school, so I don’t want them finding me now,” Gregg Giglione recently told CBS 2’s Chris Wragge.
“A bunch of reasons,” Mike Karlesky said when asked why he doesn’t have a Facebook account. “One, I know that I would end up getting sucked into it.”
Neither Giglione nor Karlesky have accounts on the social networking giant, but their personal information, including where they live, their employment history and even what they do in their spare time is easy to find on the site, and available for all to see.
“On Facebook? Huh, I’m actually shocked,” Giglione said.
“Doesn’t sit well with me,” Karlesky added.
And they’re not alone. German researchers found all kinds of personal information and private details about people — who weren’t members of Facebook — all over the site.
“A male or female, straight or gay and so that information is so sensitive and even if you didn’t directly post that information, we can infer that about you,” said NYU-Poly cyber security expert Max Pala.
What’s worse, Pala said we really don’t have any control over it. Information, including pictures and videos, are typically posted by friends and acquaintances who don’t consider anyone else’s privacy.
“This is a big problem because it’s very easy for employers, even the IRS, they use Facebook, to find out information about you,” Pala said.
Information that, even though didn’t come from you, can be used against you, especially in court cases like workman’s comp suits, custody battles and even a divorce.
“It’s opening up a whole new spectrum of opportunity for lawyers to attack the other side,” attorney Bari Weinberger said.
And there are other long-term consequences that some social networkers fail to realize. Researchers found even your e-mail address could be up for grabs to scammers and others.
“This data is very valuable and when I have that information I can build a very precise profile about your persona and then target the advertisement for you,” Pala said.
“Yeah, that annoys me. That actually does bother me,” Giglione said.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to protect yourself. You’re dependent on friends taking the posts down, or adjusting their privacy settings so not everyone can see what they write.
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