There is a social media practice that never fails to make me cringe. The title of this post may give it away but here it is: many of the women I know use their maiden name on Facebook.Â
This is something that I can understand the logic for. You sign up for Facebook, ostensibly to keep in touch with friends and reconnect with those who you haven’t spoken to in decades. But – wait! – you haven’t spoken to them in decades. Will they accept your friend request with your married name? Probably not, so you’d better add your maiden name to your profile too. Most often I see profile that say Kristin “Maiden Name” Zaslavsky.
Fool proof, right?
I worry that it’s not.
This invariably seems like a huge security issue to me. Perhaps it takes a little imagination to see why this poses a security risk. Let’s think back to almost any financial account you’ve set up in your life. What’s one of the primary security questions financial institutions ask? That’s right: mother’s maiden name. So in an effort to reconnect with your best friend from Kindergarten, you have made it easier for others to successfully impersonate your child.
While we’re at it, you should also not be publishing the year of your birth, the city of your birth, your first pet’s name , mailing address or any other pieces of information that you’re using for security questions. Facebook, in many ways, becomes a record of you. A digital page of information about your life and its major events. This is precisely what an identity thief is looking for.
Now, I don’t want it to seem like I think the sky is falling or the internet is out to get you. I certainly don’t. I am a heavy social media user. I share photos of my children as well as my full name. I just think it makes sense to be aware of what you’re putting out in the world, especially when completing social media profiles. Don’t make it easy for identity thieves or other potential creeps by fully populating your Facebook and other social media profiles.
Consider every piece of personal data you divulge online as it can have wide reaching effects. Then, relax and have fun on the internet because let’s face it: it’s kind of awesome.
*Photo credit BusyPrinting