Identity At Risk

April 30, 2011
“Privacy is dead, and social media holds the smoking gun,” said Pete Cashmore, the Mashable CEO. Unfortunately, this is the undeniable truth of the modern era. People are conversing and re-connecting with family and friends all over the world and are able to access personal information about a person via social networks. Humans are social animals who crave to mingle with their kind. Networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter have armed humans to satisfy their craving, however, the websites have become a perilous place. Although many social network users feel that privacy settings provide security for personal information on the websites, the users must be cautious regarding the information they post on the websites because it could lead to the loss of an occupation, cause financial damages, and be abasing.
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have hindered one’s ability to pursue a career option because of the posts made by the users regarding their employer. Companies such as Goldman Sachs and Cisco fired their employees because of defaming Facebook and Twitter posts about their jobs. Although many would argue that the employers should not use social network posts to fire their employees, the worker must use common sense when posting such slandering remarks about their occupation for the world to read. A prospective employee received a position at Cisco; however, due to the lack of common sense, common sense that could have saved his job, the employee posted on his Twitter page “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.” The comment led to the loss of his “fatty paycheck” because Cisco’s management employee later replied to the post stating, “We here at Cisco are versed in the web.” In essence, employers nowadays have access to private information and unless the employee is vigilant of the information posted on the websites, they can kiss their jobs goodbye.
In addition to the loss of a job, the privacy settings on the networks do not ascertain that security breaches cannot occur. Facebook is an open vault for the robbers to steal valuable possessions. Personal information such as employer, residence, and family should be avoided because hackers can impersonate a user for money. Who wants to be the person who causes a friend to lose $1,200 for a danger they are not in? However, this was the case for Ryan Rutberg and his best friend, Beny Rubenstien. A cyber criminal hacked into Ryan’s Facebook account and sent Beny a message stating that Ryan was robbed, gunpoint in London and needs money to get home. Responding naïvely, Beny wired $1200 to London to help a friend out. Such are the dangers of the jungle where unexpected hazards are waiting at every corner. In addition, personal information can lead to theft of a Social Security Number (SSN), which is the security for monetary transactions. In fact, hackers can steal SSN numbers based on residence information. No matter how safe a user might think their profile on a social network is, it is best to stop publishing personal information on the websites for the sake of privacy. Hackers crave for information, crave for money, and crave power. Therefore, it is essential for users to protect themselves from evitable dangers. After all, it is better to be prepared for the earthquake rather than living in despair.

The most important consequence of social network privacy is the extent to which the networks can damage self-esteem. Social acceptance on networks such as Facebook is equivalent to being picked last for dodgeball. Doesn’t it hurt when everyone says you are not a good player? Doesn’t it hurt to when friends belittle you due to athletic ability? Being picked last for dodgeball hurts the self-esteem of a child parallels to the way ridiculing posts lowers the self-esteem of a friend. Although a person can delete a post, debasing comments can hurt another person emotionally. In a Truecrimereport article published on January 28, 2010, the school superintendent Gus Sayer said, “Apparently the young woman had been subjected to taunting from her classmates, mostly through the Facebook,'' regarding the suicide of 15 year old Phoebe Prince. Up the ladder of suicide climb the teenagers for the increasing harassment over social networks nowdays; dying in the darkness embarrassment created for them. With this in mind, it is vital to stop disparaging posts on social networks in order to deter such tragic incidents in the future.
Tragic incidents have become a norm to the cyber society. Although many social network users feel that their personal information on the websites remains secured, it is vital to stop publishing private information to deter tragic events. So let us be cautious of the information on profiles. Let us be sure to use common sense when accessing social networks. Let us be sure not to post rude comments. Let us be sure to protect our identity. Finally, keep in mind that there will always be someone watching you, so prepare for the worst.





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