by Thu Ngan
Nguyen Thi Tuyet of HCM City was taken aback one day when many of her friends asked her about a party she planned to attend two weeks later.
They asked her what she planned to wear and why she decided to attend it.
Tuyet, 47, had been labouring under the impression that none of her friends knew about her party plans.
"I did not intend to tell anyone about the event. So I was shocked and upset hearing my friends' questions," she said.
She had failed to contend with Facebook.
She had signed up to attend the party on Facebook ["Nguyen is going …"], which promptly informed all her friends.
She may have been particularly naive, but she is one of many Vietnamese who are increasingly going online and inadvertently revealing their personal information.
Take people's current obsession with checking Facebook. Who among us has not wondered about the myriad pictures of a bunch of young women (or men) sitting before plates of food at a restaurant? Is posting a photo of your food all that important? To make matters worse, all of them post the same photos simultaneously.
Speaking informally with the media recently, experts from a global IT company said the awareness of risks and strategic thinking among not only individuals but also companies are possibly lowest in Viet Nam compared to anywhere else.
They said in a modern world where technology enables things like cloud, big data, engagement, in Viet Nam even people like company heads, who should know better, instead of obsessing about protecting information, are neglectful.
One of them gave the example of a former boss who was ready to invest in technology to help his staff protect information, but failed to use the same technology for his own system because "it is complicated".
One of the IT guys said he never posted his children's pictures on Facebook though many of his friends demanded to see them.
He thought it was dangerous since some day the photos could be misused by bad people, even if just to advertise medicines for skin diseases.
"Send the pictures privately to your close friends or turn on the 'friend' function when sharing private pictures," he advised.
His advice makes sense. Just last week a five-year-old girl whose photos in expensive clothes and accessories had been posted on social media by her parents became a media story.
Many clearly envious people slammed her parents for spoiling the child by buying brand-name handbags costing tens of millions dong.
No one has the right to judge them. Flaunting their wealth may be a bit crass, but then they seem to earn a lot of money and have the right to use it as they want.
A young lady has had a far more harrowing experience recently after her photo was posted on Facebook with the caption "Popeye Huong comes back".
Huong was a criminal who robbed people on the streets by distracting them until she was caught and sent to jail, where she remains.
So this unfortunate story quickly spread on Facebook. Its victim is a normal girl living in HCM City and she is now seriously stressed. It has been reported that she is afraid of going out since not only she but also her motorbike has become famous.
This might be a slightly extreme case. But as a matter of routine, people post pictures and notes on social networks and feel happy if they get a lot of "likes." It is not far-fetched to think that some day it might come back to haunt them.
Cloud, big data and engagement are shrinking the world at such a rapid pace that a stranger can find you and know everything about you in a few minutes.
So watch out, find a way to protect yourself. No one can protect you better than yourself. — VNS