From scams to identity theft, the dangers of social networking abound and caused claims of money lost to crime skyrocketing last year.

Last month, the social networking site Blippy, which encourages users to share information about shopping, leaked five of its users’ credit card numbers. Many of Facebook’s (self-proclaimed) 400 million users are angered by its efforts to make their information more public.

Many “tweeps” and Facebook users “absolutely believe there is no problem with flinging as much info out there as possible,” said Adam Levin, a former consumer affairs director for New Jersey who created Identity Theft 911, an identity theft management firm.


Thieves mine profiles for answers to security questions (“What is your pet’s name?”), or your birth date, which along with other information gathered, they can use to open credit card accounts.

If scammers can gather enough info about you from Twitter, Facebook or Spokeo — one of the controversial sites that aggregate public info from credit scores to income to private photos — they can obtain your Social Security number, he said.

“By the time they get your Social Security number, they have an option on your life,” Levin said.

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg famously declared that greater public sharing of personal information is the new “social norm.”

“I think the social norms have not changed,” Danah Boyd, a social media researcher at Microsoft Research New England told MIT’s Technology Review this month. “I think they’re being battered by the way the market forces are operating at this point.”

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