Social Networking and Risks Involved
Social networking for many is a way of everyday life. In today’s modern cyber tech world, it has become almost a rarity to find someone who can honestly say they have never used any type of online networking. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and, YouTube are just a few of today’s most widely used. Networking has become a great source for countless reasons including; staying connected with friends and family, meeting people with the same interests, dating and job searching. The list can go on and on. The possibilities are truly remarkable and practically endless. However, a question that each person needs to ask themselves is, are they truly aware of the risks and potential dangers they are putting not only themselves in, but their family and friends in, day in and day out. The reality is that social networking is destroying lives daily. This may seem extreme to some but it is a reality. Unfortunately for many, by the time one realizes it, it’s almost always too late, and the damage is done. What exactly is networking? The Merriam-Webster dictionary website defines it as, the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institution; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment of business. This all may seem harmless but actually, is just the opposite. In fact the interaction a person has with a social network is increasingly being used against more and more people each day. According to Lori Andrews, a law professor and expert on social networks and privacy and author of I Know Who You Are And I Saw What You Did. She identifies the web as a “lawless frontier of hidden and unpredictable dangers” (27). In her book she discusses how by opening up about our personal lives in the social world we are subject to surveillance not only by the government, but also by employers, schools and even lawyers. A common trend Andrews is seeing is that colleges and employers are rejecting candidates due to personal information searches on the internet. She also explains how burglars are targeting social media websites such as Facebook looking for those are willing post they are going on vacation; lawyers are using information in divorce cases involving child custody battles. Andrews also declares people are even finding they are being denied by insurance companies as a result of what they have disclosed about themselves online. She implies reason for denial could be that insurance companies are able to locate results of a Google search that one did thinking they were innocently looking up symptoms they or a relative may be having. These examples may seem extreme but they are matter of fact and more and more instances are occurring. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I) has some valuable information on their website detailing specific tactics that are being used by online predators. Some of these examples include, baiting, which is when someone gives you a USB drive or some other form of electronic device that is pre-loaded with harmful malware in hopes that you will plug it into your device and allow them to hack all the information from your accessory. Click-jacking is when a hyperlink has been concealed underneath valid clickable content, when clicked on downloads malware or forwarding your information to another site. Then there is Pharming, this is when one is redirected from a legitimate website to a fraudulent one with the purpose of extracting personal and confidential information. An example of this could be a pop-up mimicking a bank website. Some preventative measures that everyone should consider are offered on the F.B.I website. A few of the suggested precautionary measures include; never storing any personal information that you do not want shared onto any device that that connects to the internet. Always using the highest security settings offered with any social networking site and limiting the amount of personal information that you share on these sites. It is also recommended that one should change passwords periodically and, never re-use a password that you have used previously before. Another precautionary measure is, to make it a habit to closely monitor your credit report and personal banking statements. In the 2011 anthology “Are Social Networking Site Harmful?” The National Center for Victims of Crimes describes the link between young users in particular who utilize social network sites and the link to stalkers. They emphasize how users get caught up in networking and the “seemingly endless world of friends” and begin to view such sites as “their own little world” and loose site of reality, and that is they are spewing private and potentially dangerous information to a “public billboard with millions of users”(46-47). They also emphasize how to become a member with most of these networking sites all a person needs is a valid email address. Stalkers in minutes can create a spoof profile and begin lingering and preying upon anyone who will take their bait. Debra Ronca a content developer, writer and editor. Declares that “networking sites gives users an inflated sense of self” (58). She also says that “social networking addiction is not yet a clinical term, but many users display symptoms similar to those of drug users” (55). She also brings attention to the fact that “web sites are a product and just like any product pusher wants return customers” (59). This is a perspective that I believe many tend to loose site of. For example I think that when many of us see a late night infomercial our first thought goes right towards, it looks too good to be true, or they are just after my money. Shouldn’t we look at anything on the web the same? Much of this may seem like basic knowledge but I guess the important fact of the matter is just like with anything else in life, it’s how serious we take it. It almost seems like so many carry on with the attitude of “it won’t happen to me” until it does, or until something terrible happens to a friend, family member or neighbor. Unfortunately this usually is the time when we look back and say things such as “this all could have been prevented” or “why didn’t I listen?” Are you will to take that extra minute or two to be sure your security settings are as secure as they could be? Or are you willing to make those few extra clicks of your mouse that seem so far “out of your way” to ensure you are doing everything you can possible to protect not only yourself but your family members as well? These are questions I hope you will ask yourself and consider the next time you go online.
Andrews, Lori. I Know Who You Are And I Saw What You Did. New York: Free Press 2012. Print.
National Center for Victims of Crime. “Social Networking Sites Are Increasingly Frequented by Stalkers.” Are Social Networking Sites Harmful?: Anthology. Ed. Stefan Kiesbye: Christine Nasso. 2011. 46-47. Print.
Networking. “Merriam Webster Online Dictionary.” 2013. Web. 24 July 2013. Ronca, Debra. Social Networking Sites Give Users an Inflated Sense of Self.” Are Social Networking Sites Harmful?: Anthology. Ed. Stefan Kiesbye: Christine Nasso. 2011. 55- 59. Print.
United States Department of Justice. Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Internet Social Networking Risks.” Federal Bureau Of Investigation. Department Of Justice. n.d. Web. 21 July 2013.