Facebook profiles can attract predators: expert
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, July 17, 2007 10:20AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 6:34PM EDT
Parents should be aware that even the slightest amount of basic information their children provide on social networking sites can attract the attention of sexual predators, according to a cyber safety expert.
"(Sexual predators) will enter the teen chat rooms, they go to the Facebook (profiles) of young people that might be of interest to them and build that rapport," cyber safety expert Rob Nickel, author of "Staying Safe In a Wired World" told CTV's Canada AM.
At least one parent is reconsidering how much information has child online. Kathleen Henderson's daughter has photos of herself and her friends on her Facebook profile and regularly uses social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.
"There's a part of me thinks it's great she's so proficient on the computer, but on the other hand she considers them friends because she considers them part of all these groups that she belongs to on Facebook. But there have to be people out there that she obviously is not friends with," Henderson told Canada AM.
"So it does concern me what she's putting out there, and what type of pictures. They're harmless, but... some of [the photos] are of a swim team and she suddenly realized people are in bathing suits. So is that appropriate all of a sudden?"
Nickel believes this could be a concern because the photos may be viewed by people outside of Henderson's daughter's inner circle of friends
To make his point, he analyzed a random Facebook profile to show how much information could be culled from it.
"She put only her first name and last initial, but her full email address is her full name," Nickel said. "So now I've got a child's full name, I know what city she lives in, I know even what bus routes she takes, what her interests are. I can find her address by just doing a Canada 411 search and a map to her house if I want."
"There's all this information. Children think, well, it's just my friends looking at this stuff, it's just my buddies. No it isn't. This is out there for the world to see."