From real emails to fake profiles on Facebook

To avoid cyberbullying vulnerability, kids shouldn’t share email addresses, passwords, or cellphones with peers.


By Anne Collier

This is a heads-up for parents and kids wanting to avoid a cyberbullying trick. First, if kids have multiple email accounts (and many do), they do not want other kids to know any email addresses besides the one they used to sign up for Facebook. Michael Arrington at TechCrunch created an account at Facebook impersonating Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google. He said he was sorry in the first sentence of his post explaining how he did it (most kids don’t need an article in TechCrunch to find out how). But here’s the most important info from Arrington: “The fix for this is easy.” First he describes the easy fix Facebook could implement (hello? Facebook?). Then he gives the fix for users: “Just add every email address you use to your Facebook account. If there are old emails you don’t have control over any more you can’t add and verify them, so there’s still some exposure.” But that exposure depends on whether or not those beyond-control emails were shared with friends. Which brings us back to the beginning: Make sure everybody at your house knows not to share unused email address – or passwords, especially! – with friends. You know why I’m saying this, right? Because sometimes mean kids set up fake profiles impersonating another kid and saying embarrassing things that look like they’re coming from the targeted kid. Know, too, that it can happen with cellphones. When kids leave cellphones around for other kids to “borrow,” they are very vulnerable to impersonation – with “borrowers” sending out embarrassing text messages or photos that look like they’re coming from the phone’s owner. This may seem anti-social or something, but it’s protective: Don’t share phones, email addresses, or passwords! [See also our Tips for Strong, Secure Passwords.]

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