How to read the minds of strangers.. with a little help from Facebook [VIDEO]

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy, Social networks, Twitter

Over a million people have watched a YouTube video revealing the simple secrets of how to read people's minds, and even discover specific financial information.

Dave, an "extremely gifted clairvoyant", has revealed the tricks of his trade in the hope that it will teach the public to be more aware of how many details of their private life can be found online, on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Dave the mind readerThe eye-catching video was produced by Antwerp-based agency Duval Guillaume Modem as a public service announcement on behalf of the Belgian Federation of the Financial Sector (also known as Febelfin).

At the end of the video, users are advised to visit a Belgian website where they can read tips about online safety.

Malheureusement, it appears that the website's awareness campaign may have been too successful and by spreading "virally" (no, not that kind) it has found it hard to cope with the sheer amount of traffic..

Website inaccessible

Sorry folks, the real trick (if you can achieve it) is making your personal details vanish from social networks before they fall into the wrong hands. The simplest way to do that is to keep inappropriate information about yourself from being published on the net in the first place.

Of course, the issue doesn't just present itself on sites like Facebook and Twitter - there are a multitude of online forums, social networks and companies with whom we share our personal data online - sometimes unwisely.

If only there was a way to wave a magic wand, and easily make our past postings and unwise sharing of information from years gone by disappear for ever.

If you're on Facebook and want to learn more about spam, malware, scams and other threats, you should join the Sophos Facebook page where we have a thriving community of over 190,000 people.

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4 Responses to How to read the minds of strangers.. with a little help from Facebook [VIDEO]

  1. Jim · 758 days ago

    I watched this as well, and although the video seems to implicate Facebook (in the 1 second denouement), I think it must be more complex, with at least some assistance from the banking industry.

    Consider this: the subjects are randomly selected on the street, we're told. In this case we have to assume they at least gave their names out, which would limit the 'researchers' to data they can find on Facebook and other social media. But in a random selection of people on the street over the course of an afternoon, how many of those would have published their bank account details on a social media site. None. And how many of them would have bragged about 'spending 200 euros on clothes'?
    I'm sceptical, and while the message is good, I think there is more to this than the marketing people are letting us know.

    • Paul Ducklin · 758 days ago

      I don't think there's any suggestion that the guys *only* used Facebook.

      Remember that the makers only included in the video people who had given away lots of info and against whom the team succeded. You can call that slanted, but IMO their goal was to show what can happen at worst if you aren't careful. They weren't trying to compare the outcomes of those who were careful against those who weren't.

      As for things like "spending EUR200 on clothes" - that's not hard. The clairvoyant didn't say "you spent EUR218.50 on a green blouse". The researchers probably just made a smart guess from some sort of "look at me in my new party frock" posting, based on matching the picture of an obviously-new item of clothing worn by the "victim" to an online clothing store.

      As for credit card numbers - we don't see which parts of the numbers he got right. Remember that you can predict the first few digits merely by knowing where the person banks (and how many people complain online about "problems at my bank", thus revealing their institution). If you don't know that giving out the name of your bank reveals four digits on your card - and many people don't - it still seems like magic.

      (I've tweaked Graham's headline. I didn't read into his words "just by using Facebook" that he meant "in this video, Facebook and only Facebook was used." Merely that for some people, it's all you need to work out a whole lot. Graham does talk about using "sites such as Facebook and Twitter" in the article itself. But I can see how the headline might have been confusing.)

  2. Paul · 758 days ago

    Have given Facebook the flick a long time ago after they started publishing my brand of underwear; literally. I decided at the time that I had not seen anything of enduring intelligence or useful interest, over the years I had an account and it was time to part ways, permanently.

  3. Sootie · 758 days ago

    I'm with paul above, I gave up facebook long ago partly for privacy reasons and partly because I just didnt care that some acquantance of mine was taking their dog for a walk. In your article you say everyone should be careful about the information they put online and the safest way to do this is to get rid of facebook altogther however you then go on to say they should join your facebook page.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.