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SMC students threatened on popular facebook site

Katie Kohler | Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Women at Saint Mary’s recently received threats on the popular college Web site, facebook.com, a College security official said.

In an e-mail, Head of Security Patty Rolens warned students that some women have received both threats and abusive e-mails. The facebook.com system had even been infiltrated by Belles impersonators in order to gain personal information about its students.

“In this high tech age we live in, there is someone who is even more high tech and can find ways to misuse the multitudes of information that the Internet provides,” Rolens said.

Rolens also highlighted the importance of keeping passwords private and logging off all computers, especially those in public places, in order to avoid identity fraud or misleading information.

Keith Fowlkes, Director of Internet Technology at Saint Mary’s, repeated Rolens’ warning.

“I echo her [Rolens] remarks and would strongly advise caution and common sense whenever communicating with anyone online,” he said.

Fowlkes stressed that giving out personal information such as pictures, telephone numbers, or addresses both at school and at home are dangerous even at what seems to be an innocent organization such as facebook.com.

Many women at Saint Mary’s have taken Fowlkes and Rolens’ advice.

Freshman Beth Casciari removed her personal information after, “being contacted using my information by people I didn’t even know.”

Freshman Brigid Fenlon removed her information from facebook.com because she often received calls from individuals she did not know.

“I took my cell phone off facebook because on weekends I would get random phone calls from numbers I didn’t recognize asking if I wanted to hang out because they saw me on facebook,” Fenlon said.

Some students said they have always been cautious of the Web site.

“I always make sure never to accept any friend invitations from people I don’t know,” freshman Lisa Anderson said. “I did that a couple times and ended up removing them because I got IMed randomly by people I didn’t know through anything other than facebook.”

Saint Mary’s students have been experiencing similar problems with students receiving threatening and abuse emails through internet chat rooms.

“Not everyone is as nice, cute and funny as they may sound online,” Rolens said. “You should never make plans to meet a ‘friend’ in person.”

Students have also reported stolen credit card information and unknown e-mail attachments that are used to track a student’s information.

Rolens and Fowlkes stressed that students understand that personal information should be private and exposing such information is dangerous, especially to people that they have just met or have not met at all.