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Immediately after the discussion in class regarding Facebook privacy, the first thing I did when I got home from school was to check the limitedness of my Facebook profile to people whom I have no connections with. I am particularly keen with the privacy settings of my profile in any social networking site I associate my identity and email address with so the privacy check that I engaged in a few weeks ago was just to verify whether or not I have properly safeguarded my Facebook profile.

What I did was to sign out from Facebook and search my name as an anonymous individual. I recognized my profile among others whom I shared a name with through my profile picture. What made my name stand out from all the other Gerard Padillas were the university and high school networks which were under my name. I clicked my name and realized that only a larger version of the thumbnail of my current profile picture is further revealed upon clicking my name. I checked some of my friends’ profiles and theirs disclosed a few of their friends.

This revelation is already quite jeopardous since spammers and people who are up to no good can collect information and also be able to verify assumptions through one’s set of friends. Also, the friends who are revealed, especially those who have weak privacy settings, are put in a risk. What really alarmed me was the disclosure of the networks I am in. In hope of removing these labels from anonymous searches, I tried tweaking my privacy settings and the settings in my networks tab only to discover that there is no way for one to hide the networks one is enlisted in when one’s profile is not completely obscured from searches.

I have long thought of applying the option to completely hide my Facebook profile from anonymous searches but the possibility of friends whom I have lost connections with to be able to locate me keeps from employing this safety feature. I also do not want to leave the two networks I am in, especially my primary network, since I am proud that I am a student of the University of the Philippines. Another thing that startled me was the revelation of my cell phone number in my contact information.

Although this information is only exposed to my Facebook friends, not all of my Facebook friends are people whom I want my cell phone number to be shared with. I receive unsolicited text messages regarding cash loan offers from anonymous numbers at least once a week and I do not want the frequency of these text messages to increase. I signed up for Facebook mobile a few weeks ago but I definitely did not allow Facebook to expose my cell phone number in my profile. Come to think of it, Facebook did not give me an option to decide on this matter.

It just automatically put up my cell phone number as soon as I registered to Facebook mobile. I had to manually delete my cell phone number from my contact information to revert the exposition of my cell phone number. All the other data I share on Facebook are data I share willingly to my Facebook friends. Some of these data have selected viewership. The only bigger risk of having a Facebook account which I have not yet discussed is the possibility of someone hacking into my account.

Not long ago, I used a universal password for all accounts I had online – Facebook, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, Friendster, Skype, Multiply, Tumblr, Twitter, Formspring, online games and everything else. What made my online accounts more assailable was the simplicity of my password. It was a word on the dictionary, it contained no other characters other than letters, and it was all in lowercase. Considering the past vulnerability of my online accounts, fortunately, none of my accounts were ever hacked by a real cyberpunk.

What made me modify all the passwords of my accounts individually was when my close friend was able to get into my accounts just by guessing my password. What my friend was able to do made me realize how susceptible I was to online crime. Now that I am no longer a minor, I have to become more responsible and vigilant when it comes to my online security. I know that as person of legal age, I become more liable in a lot of aspects in life. I need to screen the information I share as well as the individuals who can access everything I post.

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