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Is the Facebook Culture Setting Us Up to Get Robbed?
By: Melody Weister
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Let’s be honest: you’ve probably seen an infinite number of articles lately about how “over-sharing” on social networks is bad for you. Such articles cite multiple instances to prove how this over-sharing mentality can be bad not only for your job, but also for your parents’ sanity (yes, college students, I’m looking at you), for your social life, and even sometimes for your marriage. You’ve probably done exactly what I have: skimmed over these articles, accepted them as being information you already knew, and dismissed them as “melodramatic.” The story that got me thinking this weekend seemed just as simplistic; a 17-year-old girl from Australia shared a photo on Facebook that caused several armed robbers to break into her mother’s home looking for her, taking with them some cash and some valuable possessions. But its implications lead me to wonder: Are so ingrained into the Facebook culture that we don’t know when to stop? Are we setting ourselves up to get robbed?
It’s the kind of story our parents would use as a warning: a 17-year-old girl, whose name has not been released, offers to help her 72-year-old grandmother clean out her home, and in the process, they find a “large sum of cash,” according to this story from the BBC News. In utter excitement, the girl responds as any teenager these days would: she posts a picture of the pile of money to her Facebook page. Later that night, robbers armed with knives break into her mother’s home, looking for both the girl and the money. The girl’s mother informs them that she no longer lives there, but the men search the house anyway, taking some money and valuables with them on their way out. No one was injured, and although the location of the girl’s post on Facebook was marked as Sydney, where her grandmother lives, police are unsure how the burglars got the address of her mother’s residence, 75 miles southwest of Sydney.
It’s easy to stand back and look at this story and point out this unfortunate girl’s errors. We look at these stories, and simply say, “I’d never do something so foolish!” However, the truth of the matter is that we are more and more indoctrinated into this “Facebook culture,” where we forget to check the privacy settings of our posts, and every time we get excited about anything, our immediate response is, “I’ve got to post this on Facebook.” Did this girl know better than to share her private information with strangers? I’m sure she did; we all know better than that. But the likelihood is, she probably thought nothing of sharing the photo with her Facebook friends, and in reality, many of us might have done the same thing. It’s not that we’re stupid, or foolish; we’ve simply become used to a culture where sharing the intimate details of our lives with the Internet is as common as adding that guy we met in the bar last week as a Facebook friend. And even though we’ve been flooded with examples of over-sharing-gone-wrong, one has to ask, is it too late to hit the brakes? Can these incidents even be prevented?

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About the Author
Melody Weister is a technology aficionado, unashamed smartphone geek, and casual gamer from Montclair, NJ, where she works as a Social Media Coordinator. Follow her on Twitter: @msmelodyrose.
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