Social sharing of credit and debit cards: how are people this clueless?

Summary:The first thing you naturally do when you receive a credit/debit card in the mail is take a picture of it, then share it with everyone on Twitter, right?

Back in July, word started going around about a Twitter account that retweets the tweets of others who take pictures of their credit and debit cards , then post them online. After this story was covered by a deluge of tech and news Web sites, I was certain that the @NeedADebitCard Twitter handle would be nixed by Twitter, due to some sort of clause within their Terms of Service; but, here we are, 3 months later, and not only is @NeedADebitCard still alive, but it's kicking as well.

Yes, the picture above is from a card that was just Tweeted and shared this week, and more have been shared since. Every time I see this type of behavior, I am left nearly speechless -- save for writing an article about it, of course. *grin*

How is it that people are this clueless? I mean, I really just don't understand how so many people do this very thing:

1 - Receive credit/debit card in the mail.

2 - Avoid all the places in the letter and on the card that say "DO NOT SHARE THIS NUMBER WITH ANYONE."

3 - Take a picture of said credit/debit card.

4 - Upload picture to Instagram, yfrog, or some other public picture site.

5 - Make sure the world sees their card via Tweeting about it.

What!? I mean, it's just laughter-inducing behavior, but not because it's funny. One has to wonder, what's really going on here? What is it that's lacking from this spectrum of individuals that they do this? Is there really such a huge lack of understanding about social media and basic (and by basic, I mean RIDICULOUSLY BASIC) financial and identity theft principles that this type of stuff will fervently continue?

This, my friends, leads me to discuss a little something that I've been putting a great deal of thought into lately -- something I feel is becoming a major issue that needs to be dealt with through education: Web literacy.

Baffling as this behavior may be, it falls into a category I've been identifying and defining through my own research for years now. In addition to the folks who share their cards on Twitter, there are people who store their tax documents online (and their childrens', too); people who keep customer databases in wide-open directories (including credit/debit card information, SSNs, etc.); companies who store scans of credit/debit cards, SSN cards, passports, etc. in wide-open directories (sorry, but no examples I can share); and much, much more. It's truly frightening, and it's been happening for over a decade.

The failure here seems to be a complete lack of Web literacy -- in that, people are ignorantly being unbelievably reckless the most sensitive information they could be asked to muster. Who would have thought in a million years that with the advent of the Web, ID thieves would be able to just sit back and wait for someone to give them their credentials? Perhaps this type of behavior is just going to have to run its course and, with time, people will learn not to share their credit/debit cards with all of evolution... or not. Either way, I think there are people (like me) out there who should be proactive with helping to educate others about the Web.

One of the problems I'm met with is how to effectively reach the individuals who are just waiting to be the next star tweets on @NeedADebitCard's Twitter stream, before it's too late? As such, I've decided to take it upon myself to begin a new mini-series, titled "Web literacy." I hope it's something that will be referenced and shared by those who have the power to influence, be them bloggers, teachers, consultants, or otherwise.

With everything I've seen on the Web in my travels, I feel like I have to try to do something more than simply write about results stemming this gross misunderstanding of the Web. In cases where it's ignorance over stupidity (which I do believe is the case, most of the time), education seriously needs to happen; not ridicule. Clearly, making examples of others and mocking them just isn't garnering the reach one might think it would in these regards.

I'll see you in the next piece, where, hopefully, I'll be able to reach at least one person and keep them from doing things like this:

debit-credit-card-id-thieves

Oof. That's just painful to see...

Topics: Privacy

About

Stephen is a freelance writer and blogger based in Charlotte, NC. His contributions to ZDNet cover topics related to security, gaming, Microsoft, Apple, and other topics of interest with a tech/SMB skew.

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