A quick search of the Internet can reveal an individual’s most personal information. People who use the Internet on a regular basis need to be aware of the dangers of posting their private information online. Combining the use of social media, public records, newspapers, and address sites, an everyday person with no special training whatsoever can find out almost anything about anyone.
Social media is probably the most common place where people voluntarily post their personal information online. Birthdates, phone numbers, email addresses, workplaces, hometowns, current locations, and marital statuses are just a few of the tidbits of info people put out there without even considering the consequences. All of the social media sites claim to be “secure” and “private,” but if a person knows how to search, much of this information can become visible if the account’s privacy settings are not airtight.
Public records sites are also an ideal place to locate facts about somebody. Using the information acquired through social media, a person can search through a particular county’s court records, police records, and land records. Criminal records, property values and dates of purchase, car accident reports, and court cases regarding a certain individual are all easily accessed.
Newspaper archives—many of which are now available online—are another great way to discover more details about a person’s background. In particular, obituaries not only provide the names of deceased individuals, but also their children, children’s spouses, and grandchildren. Also, any articles regarding crimes, accidents, or special events with the person’s name attached will come up in a search and provide more details that otherwise may not have been found.
Lastly, address sites are extremely helpful as a cross-referencing tool for the previously mentioned sites. Confirming or locating an address is very simple, especially if one already knows the general location of the individual. A little research of the previously mentioned sites combined with the usage of an address-locating site allows an individual’s current address to be located without too much trouble.
These sites are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to obtaining an individual’s personal information. Many websites, which are not detailed above, include satellite images of properties, photographs of criminal offenders, and detailed pictures of towns and cities. Multitudes of individuals voluntarily post pictures of their spouses, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, cats, dogs, cars, apartments, and houses, and these images are dangerously accessible to almost anyone. Therefore, on top of all of the typed information one can find on the Internet, now vivid photos are available to go with it. Such things as eye color, hair color, height, weight, race, and gender—private things which one would find on a driver’s license, for example—are visible for all to see.
In conclusion, social media can be helpful and even fun if used wisely. However, the hidden dangers of social media must be considered at all times when surfing the web or posting things online. Once a person’s information is out there, it’s out there for good. And anyone can find it.
Related article:Understanding Facebook’s Security Settings