Friday, July 22, 2011

Two weeks after Facebook launched its new application of video- chat, privacy specialists and private investigators are cautioning about the risks for children and youth on the social networking site. Experts say the video chat option on social networking sites like Facebook can be a valuable tool used by honest subscribers, but also a dangerous gateway for criminals to access your children. Philippines private investigators urge parents to be aware of the risk, and keep an eye on online activity.

Law enforcement and private detectives often warn consumers not to send money or to provide personal information over the internet. They say it’s a very bad idea to publish your birthday online, anywhere, and that publish simple things like your full name and date of birth and address is fast way to be a victim of crime like identity theft or even worse. Not to mention bank account information, passwords and other sensitive information. Match-making sites like and many others, including social networking sites simply have no way to screen the millions over users from locations around the globe. The criminals take advantage of this, and they go after easy targets.

Privacy advocates advise Facebook users to be very careful, review your contact list and do not click on suspicious links displayed in any social network service. Common scams include messages about one of your contacts being stranded some place, or in trouble. Another scam is supported by video chat, where you are able to hear or see your friend, obviously in a very bad video quality so you really won’t be able to really recognize him or her positively. Another one scam is receiving a video call or chat from a so called Facebook representative calling you from a hacked account of a friend or relative, to let contacts know their account is being compromised and contacts should be warned that they can fix this problem by paying Facebook technical support (with a credit card) and the problem will be solved, or the account will need to be closed, they say.

The new proximity of the video application provided by Facebook and Skype as a partner is a greater risk and an open door for teenagers and pre- teens. Philippines private detectives say adolescents are quite active in social media and usually chat from their 4G mobiles or get into video chat at night, alone in their rooms. Parents should be aware that their kids could be at serious risk, since adult criminals, including pedophiles, seek out relationships with such youngsters who do not understand the red flags and dangers behind the computer.

Teenagers use social networks and internet for more than just catching up with friends and doing their homework assignments. Sometimes kids accept strangers in their profiles as friends because they think he or she could be a neighbor or another school friend of a friend. Or, they just want more “friends” if you can call a Facebook contact that. The new Facebook video application is already causing some problems and complaints regarding the child safety from watchdog groups.

Privacy experts and investigators suggest:

- Supervise your children when they are online.
- Talk to your children about the risks they can face online, especially about strangers.
- Make sure your child’s account has a unique passwords with numbers and letters.
- Constantly update your privacy settings
- Leave profile information blank or restricted if you want, as this is the first information criminals and scammers check when hunting for victims.

Of course Facebook may claim it is the responsibility of the parents to allow their children to access this network, and wash their hands with that. After all, there is big money at stake. With Facebook now generating ad revenue with overpriced pay per click ads, the company is looking to cash in on all their loyal subscribers, and their subscribers’ children. The social media giant does include a short list of ways to stay safe while using video chat. However, the list falls short in explaining the real risks involved . (Facebook never says you can report the person to them, since you are responsible for who you accept as a “friend”). In short, be safe and skeptical. Experts say be sure your kids only video chat with people they know personally and trust.

Best of luck,

A Hathaway
© 2011 A Hathaway

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This copyrighted article was written and published by the editor and site author, A. Hathaway, or other guest private investigator, expert or contributor as noted.

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