Social Networking

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This paper aims to discuss the negative impacts that social networking sites pose on today’s media savy generation. It is apart of my study for the unit ‘Internet Communications and Social Networks’ and fits into the social networking stream. A social networking site can be defined as an online service that is based around the building and reflecting of social relations among individuals with common interests or social ties (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). Social networking sites such as Friendster, Linkedin, Spoke, Face book, MySpace and Twitter all vary slightly, yet the one main feature they have is that they enable users to create a profile within the website to represent themselves and allows uses to interact through email, instant messaging and other integrated communication channels within the site (Papacharissi, 2009). The popularity and growth of social networking sites over the past five years has been colossal, as many people from all over the world join up to this social phenomenon for varied reasons. Today, there are more than 500 million active users on face book and users spend over 700 billion minutes per month on this social networking site (Facebook, 2011). As the technology of Web 2.0 improves and advances, social networking sites have an even bigger impact on society and human relationships, both positive and negative. This paper argues that social networking sites have a negative influence on children, teenagers and adults, increase the ease and prominence of cyber bullying, increase personal insecurities and feed addictions and weaken strong personal ties. This paper also argues that social networks create distraction and decrease productivity and profits within the workplace and can also can jeopardise a company’s reputation. Social networks also increase the ease of identity theft and bring to light other privacy issues as well as lead to an overall decrease in our face to face social skills and confidence. This paper will demonstrate that social networking sites do cause more harm than good. Identity Theft

Identity theft is a huge problem in today’s society and has come about as a result of the rapid expansion and availability of internet technology and the increase in personal data found on social networking sites. In fact “A total of 806,000 Australians aged 15 years and over were victims of at least one incident of personal fraud in or identity theft in 2008” (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008).Sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter facilate identity theft in two mains ways. The first being is that sites encourage you to ‘edit your profile’ this includes adding your interests, full name, where you live, who your top friends are, your email address and even personal details like your phone number an relationship status. “Users share a variety of information about themselves on their Facebook profiles, including photos, contact information, and tastes in movies and books.”(Jones & Soltren, 2005). This information disclosure causes a huge problem as the more information you have on your profile the easier it is for identity thieves to verify themselves as being you. The second main issue is the privacy settings on these social networking sites also help faccilate personal fraud. Whilst there are built in features that allow users to change their privacy settings and not allow other users to view such personal details, these settings are never default, so that users are usually unaware how much information they are sharing not only with their friends, but with the rest of the world “By default, profiles on Friendster and Tribe.net are crawled by search engines, making them visible to anyone, regardless of whether or not the viewer has an account” (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). A general lack of awareness amongst users and the fact that digital identity can be easily hacked makes social networking sites a hub for identity theft which results in unwanted legal hassles, loss of money and years of...
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