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You should be a liar online.

No, scratch that, you MUST be a liar online if you have more than 232.86 friends/followers/fans in social media.

I lie all the time online. Flat out lies, deception, incorrect information, omission – you name it, I do it. I lie about where I live, about my birthday, about my family or lack thereof, about all of the things that would be useful for someone to cause me significant harm.

Why? Simple. There are bad people out there. What you probably don’t know is how numerous they are. Based on the FBI Uniform Crime Report, here are some interesting statistics. I make a couple of assumptions here. I assume that the FBI doesn’t double-count, which means that if someone is raped and murdered, it’s filed only under murder. Second, I make the assumption that law enforcement is working as intended and each crime is perpetrated by a unique individual within a calendar year. Yes, there are definitely multiple offenders, but I’d hope that if someone commits murder, they’re not out of jail and doing it again within the same calendar year.

So, with that disclaimer, here’s why you should be lying online:

  • If you have more than 20,143 friends/fans, one of them is statistically likely to be a murderer.
  • If you have more than 3,485 friends/fans, one of them is statistically likely to be a violent rapist.
  • If you have more than 752 friends/fans, one of them is statistically likely to be a robber. (remember PleaseRobMe.com?)
  • If you have more than 381 friends/fans, one of them is statistically likely to be a violent criminal.

Now, these statistics (derived from the FBI data of crimes per 100,000 population members) aren’t uniform, of course. The crime rate per 100,000 people will be different if you physically live in Fargo, ND than if you live in midtown Manhattan. That said, it’s still worth thinking about, still worth realizing that in the social world we live in, there are plenty of bad people mixed in with the good. We think nothing of having 100, 500, or 1,000 people in our social media circles that we’ve never met and never had a chance to get a gut feeling for. You’d better bet that at that scale of people, there are some bad apples in the bunch.

This is why you should be lying. All 3,000 or 5,000 or 20,000 friends/fans/followers don’t need to be criminals in order to make your life miserable and/or cause you harm. Only 1 of them that takes advantage of information you post online carelessly is needed to do the job. I’m not saying you need to live under a rock and hide away from everyone online, either. I’m just saying that you need to be careful with the information you share and be thoughtful about how truthful you actually need to be online. Do you need to check in everywhere? Do you need to share photos of your kids? Do you need to announce that you’re not at home?

Transparency and stupidity don’t have to be synonymous.

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