Social media sites have responded to the widespread sense of anonymity online by requiring users to provide real names and to have real offline identities before granting profile status. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all summarily deactivated seemingly fake accounts where online handles or pseudonyms obscure real-world identities. Unfortunately, this has sometimes hampered civil discourse as victims and protestors lose a protected, anonymous platform for decrying injustice.
This emphasis on real-world identity has increased users' sense of trust and is welcomed by child-safety advocates, but shifting privacy settings erode user trust and prevent children from going online anonymously, ironically making them even more vulnerable to predators and, now, identity theft."
Yet," one writer notes, "the full implications of being associated online with a single, real-world identity are only dimly understood. [Fred Stutzman, a fellow at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University and a researcher in online activity], along with two other researchers, recently conducted an experiment that demonstrated the uses to which the information could be put. Armed with anonymous pictures of volunteers, the researchers were able to use facial recognition software to identify one-third of the subjects by linking to their public Facebook profiles. They were also able to uncover a wealth of other information such as the subjects' personal interests and, in some cases, parts of their social security numbers."
Who you are matters, not only to you and those who love you, but to the people who want access to your data and money as well.
The above is excerpted from chapter 10 in #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Networking by Dr. Gregory Jantz.