THE BLOG

Is Your Facebook Friend a Fed, or Sex Offender?

Jul 07, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

When you think about it, Facebook is weird. Where else in the world do you call people who you don't know your friends? I probably have about 10-15 friends. Most are acquaintances and the other 400 are total strangers.

There's a lot of excessive trust in the Facebook world. People have entirely dropped their sense of cynicism when logged on. They have no reason to distrust. People who are your "friends" are generally those who you "know, like and trust." In this world, your guard is as down as it will ever be. You are in the safety of your own home or office hanging with people all over the world in big cities and little towns and never have to watch your back.

Reports of sex offenders on social media abound. Do you know who your child is befriending?

Many of the "strangers" came into my life as a result of what I do, and I appreciate and accept them for connecting. But I know plenty of other people who don't write or do media and might be in college, and have 2000 friends! And they know 5 of them! Social media is weird.

Employers, potential employers and others will often friend someone for the sole purposes of getting a solid profile of that person to determine if they want to hire them. Now the AP reports "U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that offers a tantalizing glimpse of issues related to privacy and crime-fighting."

I don't think there is anything wrong with this; it's a good thing actually. There is a question of legality and whether or not government agents can pose as someone else and lie, which often violates the terms and conditions of the sites themselves.

But the fact remains, there are bad people out there and they need looking after. And if it means an FBI agent posing as someone to catch the bad guy, I'm all for it. So next time you get a friend request from a stranger, they might be someone checking up on you. Guilty conscience? Hope not.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing social media security on Fox Boston.