Were you to set up a Facebook profile, would you use it to let your friends, family and others learn more about yourself? Would you talk about your personal history, likes, dislikes and other things that would let people get to know you better?
Consider the following Facebook profile and the information it reveals.
“My name is Bobby Jones, but, in high school they called me, “Slobby,” because my locker was always a mess. My high school? Why, Norman High School, of course, home of the most excellent mascot ever, the Tigers. Go Tigers!”
“My parents, George Wilson and Glenda Alice Jones, were married in Tulsa and I was born at Tulsa’s St. Francis Hospital. My father was named after George Washington, who also happens to be my favorite historical figure. My mother’s father, Samuel Smith, was also born in Tulsa and he and my grandmother, Sue Ellen, lived in Tulsa for many years; I guess you could say I have deep roots in Tulsa.
“I also went to Franklin Elementary school in Tulsa. After that, my Dad got a job in Norman, so that’s where the family went. I remember that Goofy, my youngest brother (his real name is Philip James), cried over us having to move, but my oldest sister, Heather Jane, somehow convinced him that the streets in Norman were paved with chocolate, so he perked right up. We moved the same day that my brother’s first child, Hughbert, was born.
“After we moved to Norman in 2000, our next-door neighbors, the Smith’s, found out that my Mom’s birthday was March 3rd, 1965, the same day as the mother of their family. After that, we were all great friends.
“I got my first car in high school. It was an old ’75 Ford LTD, a giant land barge of a car, but, it ran good and I was glad to have it. My first job was as a carhop at Sonic and I bought the car from my boss, Karl. My future wife-to-be, Kathy May, liked it too, when I took her to the prom in that old Ford. Even though she went to Norman North High School and I went to Norman High, I had put a Norman North sticker on the front bumper, which she liked a lot. It was cool that the day of the prom, April 13, was also her birthday, so we had two things to celebrate.
“After high school, I went on to the University of Oklahoma (where else?), majoring in economics. In 2009, on July 15th, Kathy and I were married, with her sister Sally being the maid of honor. Nine months later (go figure), our first child, Amanda Jean, was born at Norman Regional Hospital. We nicknamed her “Flower,” because she had blond hair like a daffodil. By the way, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s the end of my make-believe Facebook profile. It may seem unlikely to you, but believe me, I’ve seen many Facebook profiles that go into even greater detail. It’s amazing what people will reveal about themselves on the Internet, for all the world to see.
Now, think about the security questions websites have us set up to protect our accounts. What if someone, an Internet crook, for example, could guess the answers to those questions simply by reading your Facebook page?
Mother’s maiden name? Check. High school nickname? Check. Model of your first car? Check. Name of first child? Check. Could learning the answers to your security question get any easier?
To solve this problem, the best thing you can do is give fake answers to the questions. That’s right: lie. Your high school? Bozotheclown. Your spouse’s middle name? Xagabud73. Your first car? The Platypus XJ. Get the idea? Write down the answers on a piece of paper and hide it in your house. That’s much better than putting the real answers on Facebook.
I know it sounds terrible, but sometimes, honesty is not the best policy. When it comes to security questions, lie and be safe.