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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Technology is moving today at a bewildering rate that is unprecedented in human history; it is hard for today's younger generation to even remember or fathom a time before internet or personal cell phones, yet we don't seem to appreciate the fact that both pieces of technology were non-existent until a decade ago. Just a decade ago, computers were unaffordable except for the upper-middle class, and even they didn't want much to do with the slow clunky machines that prevents the entire home from making or receiving phone calls (and those were more important back then, seeing as that was the only way to quickly communicate for an entire family as cell phones didn't exist). Today, however, just about everyone in the world has access to the internet (even in war-torn countries, as demonstrated by what some claim as the Twitter instigated revolution in the Middle East) and while technology is not inherently good or evil, it nevertheless makes many security experts and defence analysts very uneasy.

Aside from the development of more and more advanced hardwares, software development has also been moving at a surprising rate, from the old MS DOS system to today's Apple and Windows operating systems, it's hard to believe just a decade ago people were amazed that Tetris was even feasible. Today, the internet is accessed and used by not just the First World countries, but by just about everyone in the world (except for the most impoverished villages in the most impoverished nations), and it is showing no sign of slowing down; while development of a new technology is always a marvel of potential, one has to wonder if our societies are quite yet ready for such quick advances. 

One of the most popular usage of the internet are the social media websites, such as Youtube, Twitter, Myspace, eHarmony and Facebook. Facebook currently is the undisputed champion of social media, with over 750 million users world wide, and having around 50% of its users actively using the website at least once a day, it is without a doubt the number one mover of personal information in the world; regardless of type of medium . With so much personal data floating around, the number one privacy question that springs to mind is: exactly who can see my profile. The long answer is: it really depends on how well you understand and use your privacy settings, but unfortunately most users seem to have trouble understanding exactly how they work, and even with the basic protection set up, anyone with mutual friends or have been accepted to the friends' list (with the average user having around 190 friends, it's almost impossible to know who exactly all those people are) could see all your status updates or information in your personal “about page”. The short answer to the privacy question is: pretty much anyone can see your profile with a little bit of effort. One does not need to be tech savvy to bypass Facebook privacy control.

With many user having well above 150 people on their friends' list (150 people being approximately the maximum number of people one can keep in touch of based on anthropological evidence), human connection has been diluted to the point where just having a familiar name or face is enough to be qualified as a “friend”. This could be dangerous, as anyone who wants to may see just about every piece of information you've ever posted on Facebook with relative ease and guaranteed anonymity; in fact, looking over private information has never been easier, as Facebook has continually improved its user-interface so that everyone can scroll through anyone's past-to-present posts quickly and easily. The best way to protect oneself from prying eyes is, of course, to limit the amount of personal information posted, but this does inhibit the fun and purpose of some of the social media sites' most popular functions. It is just a risk that has to be weighed against ease of sharing.

If, unfortunately, that one is the victim of a seemingly random yet well organized assault or robbery, there now could be good chance that part of the strategy employed against you may be through tracking your movements via Facebook (ie, knowing your location and activities from automatic smartphone updates). Fortunately, it is possible for experienced police officers and detectives to retrace the steps used by criminals, Facebbok is a tool, and just because it is abused coming from one direction does not mean a smart officer could not reverse criminal intent by being craftier.

About the Author:
How can use your Facebook and Social Profiles by Charlie Oszvald. Charlie is specialized in private investigation and now writes for Beacon Ivestigative Solutions a private investigation agancy present in 45 states in the US, with multiple offices in Ohio (Cincinnati private investigator office), Alabama, Kentucky and more.

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