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Can you be too old for Facebook?

Facebook spelt out

Why doesn’t the news that more and more over 50s are flocking to Facebook fill me with joy? Sadly it’s because this demographic is most likely to be scammed by cyber criminals.

According to Nielsen, between 2009 and 2011, the number of 50-64 year olds visiting Facebook rose by 84%. And the number of over 65s visiting the site increased by 81% in the same period.

Online security risks

Perhaps it’s because many over 65s didn’t grow up with the internet that makes them particularly vulnerable to the wily ways of online fraudsters.

We get tons of emails from our readers at Which? Computing telling us about their recent brush with online scams. And I also get to speak on the phone to some of our readers who have fallen victim to them.

The worrying thing is that many of them have read our stories, alerting them of their tricks, but still hand out their credit card details.

Is Facebook safe?

Although many of these hazards don’t exist on Facebook, putting your personal details online can make you vulnerable – with some falling into the trap of uploading their phone numbers on to Facebook. This social network can certainly be a safe place to be, as long as you sort out your privacy settings to make sure your personal information isn’t public.

My heart sinks when I have to read yet another letter from a reader who, new to the internet and blind to the cyber crooks who inhabit it, falls victim to yet another scam.

So my advice to all those new Facebookers is by all means embrace the internet with enthusiasm and passion. And get involved with Which? on Facebook as well – but let’s not forget that common sense and a healthy dose of scepticism should exist alongside this as well.

Fat Sam, Glos says:
7 July 2011

OK, I’m slightly confused by this article. What’s the link between the rise in the number of older people using Facebook and them also being scammed by online fraudsters? Aren’t the two just two completely separate stories?

Being slightly pedantic but what has the title got to do with the article?! All the advice provided is useful for any age group, not just the rather more mature.

Soph says:
7 July 2011

You don’t need to be online to be thoroughly scammed. There’s a horrifying and heartbreaking story which led to a charity being set up for that very thing: http://thinkjessica.com.

Phil says:
7 July 2011

There is some research that suggests the opposite is true, that it’s the 18-24 year old age group, people with little life experience, who are most vulnerable.

Stuart Pryde says:
8 July 2011

As an over fifty I have been using the internet far longer than 18 to 30 year olds and by now have given all my money away to scammers and so have little left to lose.

In a way I agree Phil, I’d say younger people can be a bit more naive, whereas the older you get you become more savvy and aware of these kind of scams. And Stuart, I’ll presume you’re being sarcastic!

Sue Shaw says:
11 July 2011

I agree with all the comments above. I am 64 and use Facebook and love it. Having had scams thrown at me for years from all directions I’m always wary of everything. Just because I’m over 50 doesn’t mean I’m stupid and I may have more sense than most 18 year olds. Looking at some of the stuff youngsters put on Facebook makes me wonder whether they have any sense at all.

Fat Sam, Glos says:
12 July 2011

OK, I’ve read and re-read it. I still don’t understand the point of the article!

It starts off by telling us great news that the over 50s are flocking to Facebook. Then, completely unconnected to the intro, and totally out of the blue, it tells us that the more mature are more likely to suffer online fraud because they didn’t grow up with the internet!

Excuse my language, but W T F?!

Finally, it ends by reminding us of measures to take to make ourselves more secure. But these can apply to anyone.

So, there you have it – three completely unrelated paragraphs. Is this article just a case of “I know what we’ll do, we’ll whack the words ‘Facebook’ somewhere into the title – that’ll get people reading it!”

Bob Russell says:
17 August 2011

More to the point Sam……….. what’s the point of Facebook ?

I registered with Facebook years ago. Mindful of internet security, or lack of it, I used a fictitious date of birth.
Unfortunately, when I next came to log in, I was unable to access my empty page as I couldn’t remember the dob that I had used!
I emailed Facebook and told them of my predicament.
Their response was for me to send copies of my Passport and Driving Licence to prove my identity.
I kid you not.

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