Monday, January 15, 2007

Social network users ruining their privacy!

Students at the University of Bristol have recently been warned of the dangers of posting to social networking websites. They aren't the first to hear these warnings, and they won't be the last.

Prof. Nigel Smart of the Computer Science Department at the University of Bristol has expressed his concern at the worrying trend of people giving up their privacy on the internet via social networking websites. He told HEXUS: "I am concerned that from some of the posts I have seen, by colleagues, students and others, that there is a deep societal problem emerging of people giving up their privacy without realising it".

Just about anyone can read what's posted onto social networking websites like Orkut, MySpace and FaceBook. 'Anyone' includes the intended audience of friends, but potentially relatives, teachers and employers too.

People have been posting stuff onto the web for years, though, so why is privacy suddenly a bigger problem for a larger number of people? Three or four years ago, it was all about chat rooms and forums. Both have a level of anonymity by default; you can choose your handle and only talk about what you want to, truth or lies... nobody will know.
There's more to worry about on the web than predators and viruses. We're giving everyone access to our personal lives.

Showing off your drinking triumphs to your friends? What if prospective employers are watching?
It's easy to get an account with almost any social-networking site, and we've learned from chat rooms, it's easy to pose as somebody else. It's easy, then, to get added to a friend list (especially with the 'more friends the better' attitude of current social-networking sites). Suddenly, that 'friends only' stuff is pretty much public.

Social networking users need to take a step back and think about just what they're posting onto the Internet. It'll probably be too late for a number of people, and it'll take a lot more 'victims' of the lack of privacy before most users actually start heeding these warnings. Just beware that anything posted online to your friends now, could very easily come back to haunt you in days, months, or even years to come.

Random Reading:
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2 comments:

Jame said...

The real problem with social networking sites rests not with predadors (though that is a real issue too), it's the lack of understanding many users have about what is happening when they post information and connect to other "friends".

Ajay said...

Welcome to the internet, where men are men, women are men, and children are FBI agents!!!!