ALTOONA, Pa — A local woman almost died of shock on Thursday after discovering that for nearly a decade she had been posting vast amounts of personal, embarrassing information on the social networking site Facebook.
The information related to nearly every facet of her life, including friends, work and leisure activities. Most damaging to her reputation, relatives say, is that she had unwittingly shared hundreds of photos of herself while out with friends, giving everyone the impression she had a cocktail glass stuck to her chin.
Speaking from her hospital bed at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Maggie Cowen, 32, told the Dandy Goat that she had registered for Facebook sometime in 2006, believing it to be a service that allowed people to keep an easy count of the number of friends they had — with the added bonus of providing users a platform to keep a private journal.
“Not in my worst nightmares did I imagine that my friends would ever find out about my weird habit of taking artsy photos of all my lunches,” she said. “I could just die.”
Authorities say the case should serve as a lesson about the dangers of living in the so-called Age of the Internet, when gigabytes of data can be shared at lightning speeds, and when the lines between private and public are blurred.
“The victim put her whole mundane life on display,” said Det. Kenneth Coburn of the Altoona Police Department. “Hometown, educational history, places of employment going back to 2001, photos of her douchebag boyfriend Chris, endless reiterations of the same sad weekend plans, unflattering drunk selfies taken in public restrooms, gripes about her boss at the coffee shop, over-the-top ravings about a mediocre sushi chain, and frequent updates about personal health issues — including a graphic descriptions of the effects a nasty stomach bug had on her toilet habits.”
“Also, countless vapid Paulo Coelho quotes,” he continued, “a chronicle of her failed attempts to take up fitness, updates about every dumb trend she’s followed in the last ten years, praise for numerous crappy books and movies, countless inane articles from Upworthy, and blatant cries for attention.”
“That’s just the beginning,” he said. “Her whole life was right there for the taking. Any amateur identity thief could have a field day with all the information she provided, and the victim certainly became the object of scorn and ridicule by friends and family alike.”
Experts say that such cases demonstrate that if a website asks you to enter “what’s on your mind,” you should think twice before answering, because you never know what becomes of the data.
What everyone found most disturbing about Cowen, according to Coburn, was that she had literally saved and shared hundreds of photos of cats in adorable, humanlike poses — even though in public she adamantly disapproved of the anthropomorphization of domestic animals.