A Facebook ‘like’ and your name can reveal a shocking amount of info

    Stunt, shot with hidden camera, raises awareness about online privacy


    What if you gave your first name when ordering coffee and discovered that the barista knew your birthdate, where you worked and your home address?

    The faces that customers make when confronted with that situation are captured in a new video that also shows how much personal information can be gleaned about you if you offer your first name and like a page on Facebook.

    The video, called “Data to Go,” was released this week by Cifas, a U.K.-based non-profit organization focused on fraud prevention, to raise awareness about managing your online privacy settings.

    The group devised a stunt involving a coffee shop in London, England. Last March, a sign outside the coffee shop promised a free coffee and croissant to customers who liked the café’s Facebook page. Customers were asked for their first name when they ordered their coffee.

    While they waited for their order, a team of researchers spent three minutes searching for information about them on public websites, such as their age and occupation. Then, they communicated that information to the barista via her headset. She wrote the information on the customer’s coffee cup and in some cases shared it verbally. Hidden cameras captured customers’ reactions, ranging from nervous laughter to suspicious, disconcerted frowns.

    Cafe customer

    In the video, hidden cameras captured customers’ reactions to seeing their personal information on their coffee cup, ranging from nervous laughter to suspicious, disconcerted frowns. (Cifas)

    The video ends with the words, “Don’t make it easy for fraudsters. Set your privacy settings,” and refers viewers to its website for more information.

    A news release announcing the video notes a 52 per cent rise in identity fraud victims aged 30 and under in the U.K. between 2014 and 2015, to 23,959.

    “The likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online platforms are much more than just social media sites — they are now a hunting ground for identity thieves,” Simon Dukes, chief executive of Cifas, said in the news release. “We are urging people to check their privacy settings today and think twice about what they share.”