Social networking: how social should we really be?

Recently, as I was going through the laborious task of shredding page after page of personal information to prevent it being stolen by anyone who decided to rifle through my bin, it struck me that the details I post on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter could be used in exactly the same way.

I consider myself to be a web savvy user, and I certainly don’t put my bank details in the public domain in the manner of Jeremy Clarkson. But by trawling through social network pages you can often learn a great deal about an individual — their name, age, place of birth, siblings’ names, parents’ names, what they look like, what car they drive and so on. All of these details are often used as security questions and can certainly be used to create a profile that’s far more detailed than the one offered up by my bin.

Of course, these issues aren’t new — even if the social networking medium is. For example, people have long blurred their vehicle registration numbers when advertising cars, simply because they know criminals can match the number-plate to an address and help themselves to a motor.

So, next time I post on any of these sites, I will think twice before I tell people too much. After all, who knows who might be reading?