Senators not only ones ignorant of Facebook hazards

Thursday, April 12, 2018

U.S. senators get mixed marks when it comes to their knowledge of social media, displayed during this week’s grilling of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Sen. Orrin Hatch: “If (a version of Facebook) will always be free, how do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?”

“Senator, we run ads,” Zuckerberg told the 84-year-old Utah statesman. Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said he was the first lawmaker to put his “Facebook address,” whatever that is, on his business card.

Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, 67, asked a prepared question about “data categories,” baffling them both when Zuckerberg asked her to clarify the question.

Sen. Dick Durbin, 73, was closer to the mark when he asked Zuckerberg: “Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night? If you’ve messaged anybody this week, would you share with us the names of the people you’ve messaged?”

Lest savvier Facebook users get too smug, a Today Show investigate report by Jeff Rossen showed that parents and grandparents may be just as ignorant when it comes to sharing photos and information about their children and grandchildren.

While the reporter was interviewing a family with young children on the premise of talking about social media usage, a cyber safety expert was searching the mother’s Facebook page to find such information as the names of her husband, children, their schools, teachers and babysitter.

And, thanks to geotagging, the expert was able to find out exactly where they went, including favorite playgrounds.

Naturally, criminals and deviants have taken advantage of the opportunity to create something called “digital kidnapping,” reposting a child’s photo as their own across social media, collecting “likes,” comments and shares. Or, they use the photos to participate in role-playing games to create fantasy lives.

To avoid such abuse, make your profile private on Instagram.

On Facebook, go to your privacy settings to “Limit Past Posts” and categorize your friends, making separate groups for those you trust the most, and share your kids’ photos only with them.

Turn off geotagging by going to your phone camera’s privacy setting and turn off the location.

Don’t use your kids for a cover photo on any social media, since those are always public.

Make a habit of regularly paring down your “friends” list to remove those who really aren’t.

Plus, there are other, safer ways to share photos with the Google or Apple photo platforms.

A photo of Jeff Rossen’s family is on his Facebook page, http://bit.ly/2IOsiIC

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