My Name is Jingle Button Sparkle Toes

What’s Your Elf Name is fun but is it safe?

This is the time of year when social media explodes with fun holiday games we share with each other. One of the most common is the What’s Your Elf Name game. It asks you to put together a silly name based on some personal information. Seems harmless.

But some of these games are asking more than just an initial and your favorite color; the name of your first pet, your birthday, your favorite color, your mother’s maiden name. Do those questions look familiar? If you answered, “yes,” it’s because those are often the answers to password security questions.

It’s just social media though, right? You’re sharing with your friends. Let me ask you, when was the last time you updated your security settings on social media? With every “terms of service” update, your security settings can be changed. Suddenly, information you didn’t think was public is now public, or at least can be seen by friends of friends.

But I’m so careful with what I share

Each social media site has it’s own layers of security. Facebook in particular has layers and layers of ways they can expose and share your personal information. Are you sure everything you’re sharing is as protected as you’d like?

Even worse are the public groups and sale pages on social media sites. Your niece’s best friend who came to Thanksgiving has a page where she sells fancy lipsticks. As a promotion, she runs an elf name game and then picks a winner out of the people who answer. She doesn’t mean any harm, and, dang it, you want that holiday cherry berry red gloss she’s giving away. Because her page is public (she’s out there hustling like everyone else, good for her!) you have no idea who else can see your answers.

That Southern Home Best Recipes subreddit has some great side dishes you’re considering for Christmas. Another person out there wants to engage other users by putting up a fun game where you take your first initial, last initial, birth month, birth day, and the name of your first pet to find out what your holiday color scheme will be this year. Unfortunately, that post wasn’t altruistic and now a hacker has the seeds to unlocking your bank account.

Some of these games ask you to contribute minimal amounts of information, but others are phishing for ways to break into your accounts.

Lock it down

Take a step in the right direction by updating your security settings on all social media pages, and refraining from posting in public groups (honestly, just buy the cherry berry red gloss. She’s probably trying to make extra money for presents this year.) Also, use your best judgement on how many of those cute little games you’re going to participate in.

Next, go into your accounts and change your passwords and security questions. You should be doing that regularly anyway. It never hurts to freshen up those passwords.

Finally, monitor your accounts regularly for any strange activity. Catching a hacker early could make a huge difference.

It’s not all doom and gloom

This is a fun time of year where people seem to want to engage with each other more than ever. Enjoy the togetherness. I love these little name games and often do them in my head, then have a chuckle at being named Jingle Button Sparkle Toes.

A lot of these games are harmless fun, but, as with anything online, think about if the questions are probing in a little too far. If they’re asking for a long list of personal information, they’re probably looking for more than just a cute name.

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