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First Responders: Be Careful on Facebook and Other Sites


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Facebook has forever changed the way society interacts. Individuals can become “Facebook friends” without ever having met in person.

Also, Facebook and other social media sites bring together individuals who may otherwise have lost track of one another. However, social media sites are also an excellent data mining opportunity for hackers intent on committing identity theft or fraud.

Avoid Friending Individuals You Don’t Actually Know

On Facebook, it’s easy to “friend” someone whom you don’t actually know. Once other Facebook users are added to your friends list, they can access your personal information and see your location, family members or other information that they can use to track you down. “Friending” someone gives a stranger access to personal information you may not want that person to have.

Security Quizzes Also Reveal Information about You

Social media sites are meant to bring individuals together in a virtual community, so there are often cute quizzes for individuals to answer and post to their wall. For instance, these quizzes may ask seemingly innocent questions such as  “What was your first car?” or “What was your first job?”

These questions are fun to answer in a social setting, especially when you’re reminiscing with old friends. But discussing the answers online can lead to serious problems with your personal security. You may inadvertently reveal clues about your gender, age, birthplace or current location that a stranger can use for identity theft.

Ultimately, you must think carefully about what you post on Facebook or any other social media site because you won’t have complete control over who will see that personal information.  While social media sites are a great way to socialize and have done quite a bit to improve emergency response, they’re also excellent ways for your personal information to be used for the wrong reasons.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.