The Dangers of Facebook

dating romatic relations

The threats of the popular social network Facebook are:

  • Identity theft
  • Threats to personal safety such as stalking or threatening either online or in real life
  • Social risks through participating in minority groups or stigmatized groups

How do people differ in self-disclosure and what kind or how much of information has a high risk for these treats?

In a recent study the researchers developed a tool to score the information disclosed on Facebook. This instrument can determine in Facebook profiles what personal information is disclosed and what is not. Next this scoring tool for personal information was used to explore means for examining identity threat.

For this they divided the personal information on Facebook in 3 categories: personal identity information (gender, birth day, birth year, email, and picture), sensitive personal information (email, employer, job position, status, mini-feed, regular wall, picture, photo albums, self-selected photos, tagged photos, message, poke, send a gift, and friends viewable) and potentially stigmatizing information (religious view, politival views, birth year, sexual orientation, photos, friends viewable, interests, activities, favorite music, favorite movies, favorite TV shows, favorite books, favorite quotes, about me).

They used a sample of 400 randomly selected, accessible, personal profiles from 8 Canadian Facebook networks.

Overall in all three categories those revealing their relationship status were also those to reveal more personal information.

Those seeking a relationship were at greatest risk of threat, and disclosed the greatest amount of highly sensitive and potentially stigmatizing information

For all three categories as age increases less personal information is disclosed. Older people are more cautious when disclosing personal information. Facebook users who disclosed information about age, gender, relationship status disclosed more information in all three disclosure categories than people who did not disclose this information. Moreover, those who were single also revealed more stigmatizing items. Gender had no influence on these findings. Although women usually disclose more personal information, this difference from men is not present online.

Results from analyzing these data in another complex way also found

that voluntarily providing personal information related to gender, and relationship status was related to greater disclosure of certain topics

Using facebook for finding a new relationship is probably accompanied by a high threat of identity theft and other social risks, so take care.
Nosko, A., Wood, E., & Molema, S. (2009). All about me: Disclosure in online social networking profiles: The case of FACEBOOK Computers in Human Behavior DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2009.11.012