A survey conducted by the Associate Press-MTV revealed that 3 out of 10 teens and young adults have had their social networking accounts subjected to unauthorized access – usually by friends or by people they know personally.
They queried a total of 1,335 participants between the ages 14 and 24 about the matter, revealing some very disturbing statistics, although the stories behind them varied greatly.
Some considered this invasion of privacy as nothing but a light offense, a harmless prank. The most common scenario was when one person would leave the room for a few minutes without logging out or if they would just close the browser without really logging out of their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Their friends, seeing an opportunity to play a little prank, would often use the hacked account to write embarrassing comments – sometimes related to bathroom humor, sometimes about the person’s love life.
Those who fell victim to this said that the comments were made so that it would be obvious that they were not the ones who posted it themselves and were generally not very affected by what had happened.
However, 46% of those who were victimized by ‘friend hackings’ claimed that they became upset when their accounts were accessed without authorization – and for good reason. Social networking accounts are very personal, and many users want to keep them as private as possible.
A lot of those who accessed other people’s account without permission had malicious intent. There were reported cases of classmates creating posts designed to humiliate the victim. Sometimes, they just used the account to snoop on the private messages exchanged between people, usually between couples.
In fact, there was one case in Australia where two girls were suspended for hacking one of their classmates’ Facebook account and using it to post lewd comments on her behalf, even going so far as to edit her pictures.
It’s a highly childish prank, but that does not make it any less malicious, not to mention hurtful.
When all is said and done, though, it’s a bit disturbing to know that ‘friend hackings’ are happening despite the fact that doing so is illegal in some states. And it’s even more disturbing to discover that some people are okay with it.
This issue has to be taken very seriously, especially since social networking sites have become key instruments in bullying. Children today are facing new issues, very serious ones, and they need to be sorted out before more damage is caused.
To reduce the chance that your account will be hacked, always logout of Facebook – don’t just close the web browser. If you think someone could be using a keylogger or if you are accessing Facebook from a public computer, you can have Facebook text you a password that is good for one use only. https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=214309978590084#What-is-a-one-time-password?