How Safe is Social Networking?

October 26, 2011
By , Roslyn Heights, NY
The first social networking sites were launched in the ‘90s and have continued to be a global phenomenon ever since. On Social Networking websites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Google+, you are able to share photos with friends and post messages on their profiles. Although social networking is great for communicating with family and friends around the world, it can also be harmful. There are tons of unkind people that are on the internet who enjoy harassing others. Many teenagers are oblivious to the dangers of the internet. As a result, teenagers, and even some adults, will post about where they’re going, who they’re with, etc. If one of these posts or pictures gets in the hands of an online predator, they can potentially stalk or harass you. This verifies that social networking may not be safe and no one should be trusted on the internet.

“Sometimes when he [Richard Lindenfelzer] walks away and leaves his laptop logged into Facebook, a roommate seizes the opportunity to fiddle with Lindenfelzer's page, writing silly things about love interests or potty humor,” (Kerr 1). It is very easy for anyone to access your account if they know enough personal information about you. When you click on the “Did you forget your password?” link, anyone can change your password and hack into your account by answering security questions. Many security questions are, “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “What is your favorite color?” If someone is constantly on your account trying to obtain information about you, they can eventually figure out your password. Having personal information on the internet can be a risk to your safety. After someone hacks into an account they have the freedom to do whatever they want on it. They can write anything negative about themselves or about other people on wall posts and pictures. Most posts usually make it to Facebook’s “news feed”, which enables everyone who is your Facebook friend to see every action you’re doing. Once someone writes a personal comment on your wall, it’s out there for hundreds, or sometimes even thousands of people to see. If you write a post that is negative in any way, it can cause trouble at work, school or with your family. Additionally, online friends who you don’t know personally can potentially be online predators or stalkers. Many people are not aware of how many teenagers are spied on in social networking websites.

“An Associated Press-MTV poll finds 3 in 10 teens and young adults have had people get into their Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or other Internet accounts and either impersonate or spy on them…” (Kerr 1). There are people out there spying on teens on the internet. If a person is spying on your account, they are not necessarily someone you know. A stranger that hacks into your account may be trying to gain information about you through messages and personal information on the internet. Having this information in someone else’s hands can be dangerous. Parry Aftab, an internet lawyer and safety expert explained in an interview with Rob Stafford from NBC News that “Pedophiles are using all of the social networking sites. And every other anonymous Internet technology to find kids. The social networking sites are where kids are.” (qtd in Kerr par 2). If one of these online predators accesses any of your personal information by spying on your account, there is a strong likelihood that they will use this information to find or harass you.

“’You can change your privacy settings but people put far, far too much personal information into Facebook and other social networking sites … You don't necessarily know all your [Facebook] friends on there that well.’- IT Security Consultant, Rob Vaughan”(Warning to. Par 3). On Facebook, you are able to put a lot of personal information about yourself such as your e-mail address, phone number, where you grew up, where you work, what school you go/went to and even your addresses. Some people that you friend on Facebook may seem popular and fun on the internet, but you never know who’s behind the screen on the other side. When you have your personal information up on social networking websites, you are putting yourself in danger. The person you think is a fourteen-year-old girl who says goes to your school may actually be a forty-year-old pedophile with a criminal record. This is why your social networking friends should be people you know, and should not be a person who you think sounds familiar but aren’t sure. Friending random people puts you at risk of being assaulted or stalked through the internet.

Social networking can be risky but many people ignore the dangers of it and continue to post stupid comments, pictures and personal information on social networking websites. According to NCVC.org, people can experience physiological trauma as a result of cyberstalking. Some of these symptoms include changes in sleeping and eating patterns, nightmares, hypervigilance, and anxiety. Although it is fine to be on a social networking website, you should avoid putting up any controversial personal information up on the website. This includes everything including your age. If there are pictures of your family on Facebook, it makes it easier for stalkers to find information about you. In order to avoid being stalked you should not tag anyone in your family in your posts and you should not list anyone who is in your family as a family member. Furthermore, you should limit who sees your posts by tightening the security on your profile. Having your profile on a social networking website with open access can cause your name to be on the internet, which can easily be found by anyone. Furthermore, if you are under the age requirement for a social networking site, you should not be on it. Millions of children under thirteen are on Facebook and other social networking sites. These children are the main victims of cyberstalking and harassment. By using these techniques, there is a lesser chance of becoming a cyberstalking victim and also results a safer environment online.

Works Cited
“Warning to Facebook users over personal data.” BBC News Wales. BBC News. 20 Sept. 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-14988579

Reed, Jim. “ Social network sites 'have duty' to stop cyberstalking.” BBC Newsbeat. BBC News. 11 July 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/14085766

“Cyberstalking.” NCVC.org. 2003. http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32458

Kerr, Jennifer C. “More youth seeing their Facebook, email hacked.” Tech and gadgets on msnbc.com. MSNBC. 6 Oct. 2011. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44805187

Guynn, Jessica. “New Facebook information sharing features cause privacy concerns.” Los Angeles Times Business. Los Angeles Times. 27 Sept. 2011. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-facebook-privacy-20110927,0,1713193.story

Fox, Jeffrey. “Five million Facebook users are 10 or younger.” Consumer News. Consumerreports.org. 10 May 2011. http://news.consumerreports.org/electronics/2011/05/five-million-facebook-users-are-10-or-younger.html





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