A sad story from the New York Daily News: A man used knowledge he'd gleaned from Facebook to lure an Australian 18-year-old to an isolated bushland west of Sydney -- and then murdered her. Scary, right?
Nona Belomesoff's wily killer, a 20-year-old named Christopher Dannevig, made himself a mock Facebook page, then used info from Nona's page to entice her into an in-person meeting.
Nona's brother, Gary, told the Sydney Daily Telegraph that Dannevig had told Nona he could hook her up with a dream career in animal rescue. "Nona said if she didn't go, she would lose her job -- and this job was her dream," Gary said. "So she just went, and that was the last time we saw her."
"It was a bogus ruse to get her out there," Detective Russell Oxford told the Telegraph.
Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec, who was quoted in the article, advised kids to only open Facebook photos to friends, and to "treat each person you talk to as a complete stranger." He also advised teens to avoid naming their school and interests, and not to meet strangers they become acquainted with online unless they're with friends and have told their parents where they're going.
Internet safety expert Lori Getz has told us that tactics such as increasing age requirements and attempting to block older and younger users won't be enough to keep the predators away. "As of now, Facebook requires that a user be 13 -- but I know plenty of 10-year-olds who have accounts, and their parents know about it," she says. "The kids just lie [during signup], and Facebook has no way of verifying such information, especially if the parents are in on the deception."
Here are a few ways you can help your kid stay safer on Facebook:
Check Privacy Settings:
The "Settings" tabs ("Account," "Privacy" and "Applications") give you control over everything from how your page looks to who can see what you post. Use the options in "Privacy" to control who sees what on your kid's page.
Control News Feeds:
"News Feeds" show "friends'" status updates. Use the "Privacy" setting to control who sees what your kid is up to.
Don't Bait Phishers:
Those who "phish" try to trick users into divulging sensitive and personal information by directing them to a fake website that collects things like usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, etc. Facebook has encountered several phishing scams wherein users receive a link in their inbox directing them to a new page that looks like Facebook but requires them to log in again. Don't fall for it! If you're asked to re-enter your name and password, you're no longer on Facebook! Make sure your kid knows that.