Social networking websites are web based services where one can create a public profile within almost virtual community. One can have a list of other users (“friends”) with whom they share a connection with, as well as view information on friends of friends. The main purpose of social networking sites is to build relations between friends who share similar interests. Most of these sites provide instant messaging and email services but are on a high level so that there is an element of complexity eg special software application tools are available in facebook which increase the users presence on that website. .
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Social networking recently has become a major part of the internet. In fac,t social networking sites are everywhere, nearly every person who has access to the computer and internet indulges with social network related sites on daily basis. Commom sites such as facebook, MySpace, hi5, Bebo and YouTube have millions of visitors daily. Facebook alone, has over 500 million users which make it the most popular social network website on Earth. According to Facebook , 50 % of their users are active users who log on facebook daily and “People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook”. The rapid increase in popularity of social network such as facebook has encouraged organisations to allow access to these sites within their networks. However many people now question social networks, the popularity of these sites has raised both security and privacy issues of its users. Millions of teenagers and adults exchange and share their personal interests and personal information such as photos, videos etc, therefore one can learn almost anything about someone or stranger (If the profile page is open to anyone) who they maynot have met before, from their birthday to who their friends are and other personal information such as relationship status.
There are many problems and dangers in using social networks however in contrasts there are considerable benefits of using social networks. Social networking is undisputedly one of the easiest way to keep in touch with family and friends as well as a channel in meeting new people with similar interests. One can make connect with people not presently in conact, for example staff in an organisation, students or alumni. Thus, social networking has made it very easy to make new friends or even meet old friends, which is a major benefit of social networking.
Now, within the business world, social networking sites can also provide easy opportunity for anyone to advertise. This could either mean advertise an upcoming “event” or any other form of business advertising. The most important benefit of social networking sites like facebook or MySpace is that it gives an individualan opportunity to create an image of themselves through their profile, in a way he or she wants to be represented. It also gives them the chance to express themselves.
There is a strong sense of being able to express ones own creativity. For this reason people find the sites almost personally fulfilling to be part of.
Social networking sites have considerable benefits in allowing users to keep in touch with one other. Before social networking, people were only able to stay in touch with friends, families via phone, emails letters or online messengers, but it was very awkward and difficult to maintain contact due lack of communication tools. But sites like facebook have made staying in touch with people much easier where user can also emails as well as do live chat. Use of mobile phones and home computers with cheap internet has opened the doors for users all over the world, thus social networking has rose more than ten fold in the last decade.
There is more pressure on people to use the sites because it has becaome almost part of modern living. The benefits somewhat seem to outweight any disadvantage even though the general public may not know at length where significant dangers lie in not setting appropriate
User boundries for the applications or not using the applications with care and security.
Social networking allow individuals to express themselves. The most popular way for an individual to express them self is by creating a profile which gives basic details about their personality such as personal interests, hobbies and education etc. One can add there details of hobbies and interests which might envoke other users to remain contact with similar interests and create “social network” between them. Social network sites, such as MySpace allows user to be creative by letting them design their own profile with different colour schemes and background pictures as well as using their own html codes for different layouts. Users such as music artist or writers can also show their creative side by writing blogs to let people know what is going on in their life. Creative artists such musicians, actors etc often use social networking to expand their fan base by using their profile in effect to advertise themselves. They can also get rapid feedbacks on any expressedtype of new ideas from their fans
However despite all the positives of social networking the negatives overshadow the positives. Social networking has completely changed the nature of privacy by allowing individuals to obtain information of one individual without much effort. Social networking sites do not educate their users of apparent or hidden dangers in publishing their personal information on the World Wide Web. Even if a user is cautious about protecting their privacy it is very difficult for them to absolutely control who can view what on their profile pages. Most of the social networking sites have privacy tools which are not flexible enough to protect users data. This is because they have limited options of just to make the profile private (only friends can view it ) or public ( every one can view)â€¦â€¦â€¦..
Social networking has also provided a new way for phishing and scamming to fraudsters. Scams can be posted as “comments” on an individual’s profile or sent as private messages. This could encourage users to click on links that might link to fake version of that social networking site asking to enter logging detail or any other personal detail. This site might have no functionality apart from redirecting the user back to the original social networking site after the user has entered his/her login detail. That way, the scammer can use the login detail to have full access to the victim’s profile, which then can be used to scam more users and sell their personal detaisl on ‘black market’. According to Symantec monthly report  on spam & phishing, 92 % of phishing scams were carried out through social networking sites. This shows that social networking is a leading area for scammers to either steal personal details or send spams. Figures from fishtank.com  show that FaceBook is the 7th most targeted website of phishing scams in 2009, this figure might have increased in 2010. According to the article in the guardian paper, lately many phishing attacks have been carried out through Facebook , fraudsters have sent spam messages to users which link to the fbstarter.com or fbaction.net. These sites were phishing scams which looked as if they are Geneon sites, but were used to steel login details of facebook users. However facebook has announced that they have blocked the fbaction.net links from facebook website and messages that links to fbaction.net.
Social networking is very common in teenagers or underage users. Most of these teenagers don’t take into account or acknowledge the dangers of social networking sites. To them, all the social sites seem innocent. Most of these kids use these sites only to stay in touch with friend. Social networks are a hub for paedophiles and perverts. This is because majority of the children post too much personal imformation. Not just their name, but they post their photos, addresses and the school that they attend. Social networking sites provide neccessary information that these criminal predators need in order to target vulnerable kids. Majority of the parents are also not aware of common dangers in misuse of the sites. Also they may be unaware that their child has access to them or worse still is addicted to them. There are reports, worldwide, of grave concequences of children being involved in such incidents where sites have provides a main medium of communication with the children putting themselves in dangerous situations.
Facts show that out 10 teenagers, at least one has posted a nude/semi nude photos of them self on their profile . An adult can become aware enough and handle all ofl the dangers of posting personal information on a social networking site but it might not be obvious to children, since they simply are not mature nor have developed enough,in mind, to comprehend the complexity of social networking. However, this danger could be prevented if children not only educated about what they should post on the profile and how they should post restricted material but also protected. Carers or parents should know what children are exposed to and what activities they conduct. The use of privacy settings on sites such as facebook can also help to prevent these dangers.
One interesting aspect is when an employee can overlook his /her posting on any social networking site and talk about themselves for example to a potential employer. Thay may present a picture of themselves completely differnt to that of the one on thir social site. How are they to know that these details have not been viewed by that person. One example is that they may tell a lie about their whereabouts to someone only to discover that they have found the truth about them on a social site eg on holiday or out shopping instead of sick, at home and off work .
It is clear that there is evidence suggesting that social networking is very dangerous indeed, but it is very difficult to ignore social;l trends locally and on a global scale. Can we live without a system that has breeded into our society so rapidly and deeply that it has an impoact on our day to day habits, even sleep is effected. Some people are suffering from an insomnia syndrome due to addictions on ef facebook poker and Farmville and the worrying issue is that the users are now the very young ones, small children.
One great disadvantage is the impact on verbal and communication skills for children. The findings are is that children are missing out on being verbally competent, thay are learming to speak properly later in life due to chatting on the internet, thay are more shy or reserved. This danger is one of the impact on society and the future generation. Insead of talking and reasoning verbally, they are typing into the keyboard. Perhaps talking on the phone is better for humans because true emotion can be expressed and maybe we use a different parts of our minds. How much control do you think we will have over this.
Social networking is here to saty because
Such a big user level
No one person has control over it
Too many uses
Will always be delveoping
Too much meny to be made in it
May be part of our future jobs
May need it for
Dangers have to be managed
Are there but its have they are controlled/stopped/
Have to have a deeper understanding of what danger is, its impact on us today and toimarrow.. learn from mistakes and continuously work together to protect people and educate them
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