The "Florida Man" viral craze is making us laugh, which means -- you guessed it -- scammers are trying to cash in on your clicks. In case you live in a small bubble, Florida Man is an internet meme, or a phenomenon that was inspired by crazy news headlines, like "Florida man pleads guilty to mailing pipe bombs," "Florida man arrested after throwing cookie at his girlfriend" ... you get the picture.
Well, the internet has turned "Florida Man" into a comedic superhero meme ... and now creeps are trying to use your sense of humor to get you to divulge your private information without you even realizing it.
The latest challenge is called the "Florida Man Challenge," but it's not the only one like this. Last year there was a challenge called "What's your Royal Guest name," and it was bringing out your special details, too. So what can we do about it?
What is the 'Florida Man Challenge'?
This challenge came from Tumblr originally and traversed social media channels as all challenges do to Twitter. This latest "challenge" is flooding the news feeds from search engines to its own hashtags, #FloridaMan or #FloridaManChallenge.
When you Google this information, which we'll get into the how below, it brings up a news article from Florida associated with your birthdate.
How does it work?
First, you'll pull up Google and type in "Florida Man" which will immediately give you a list of dates besides it.
- Google "Florida Man" and your birth date
- Find a headline about the activities of a "Florida Man" that matched your birth date
- Post that headline to your social media account
Why you shouldn't participate
So what does it do and why should you not participate in it? Aside from the fact it's the latest craze, it's giving away part of your identity. The reason why that's not a good thing is that it's really a phishing attack to get you to post your personally identifiable information.
Even if you have locked down your social media accounts, to selective friends and family who are able to see your posts with personal information, it's not a good idea. The biggest problem occurs when it's posted information into a public forum or feed in direct response to these types of challenges.
People that are looking for this type of information whether it be your name, email, birth date, maiden name, first pet, the street you were born on — it gives them one more tool to easily get this information with you publicly putting it all out for them. It's phishing disguised as a fun harmless challenge to join in with the masses of social media.
Final thoughts on protecting your identity
I've never been a proponent of joining in on these social crazes as you never know the ramifications. We already have issues with privacy today, playing a seemingly harmless challenge doesn't mean it always is in our digital era of consistent privacy breaches through apps, websites and institutions.
With this information, those bad actors looking to do you harm will have complete access to obtain easy access to your online accounts or financial data. The thing I've told my family and others are once it's posted to social media, it's out there forever and there's nothing you can do about it.
Having safety online isn't just about your email attachments anymore or finding jobs online that are also trying to steal something from you. We have to be more conscious and vigilant if we're to stay ahead of the curve on securing our personal data.