Social networking media is changing the way people communicate with one another. Nowadays social networking seems the preferred method of keeping in touch with friends, family and associates, whether they live round the corner or on the other side of the world. Whilst social networking is good in many ways, there are several hidden dangers to using them. The following article outlines just a few and the practical ways in which you can protect yourself in the future.
If you are not careful about who can see your posts and photos you could be revealing too much information about yourself. Social Networking sites encourage its users to fill in as much information about themselves as possible on their profiles. Information such as your likes and dislikes, whereabouts you live, where you currently are, where you work and were you went to school may all be available for anyone to see.
All this information could potentially be used against you in a ‘cyber attack’. These cyber attacks may come in the form of a personalised message, which is tailored by a cyber criminal armed with all this free information about you. By enticing you to click on a link that has been sent to you, you could fall foul of unwittingly entering sensitive data such as your bank details.
It is also possible, if you are not careful, to give away a clear indication of where you live. You would only need to post a status update telling of your plans to go away on holiday and an opportunistic thief, who may even be in your ‘friends’ list, knows exactly when to strike your property.
By adding information such as your date of birth, email addresses and phone numbers you are leaving yourself wide open to identity theft.
To ensure that you do not fall foul of cyber criminals always be thoroughly familiar with the privacy settings on your account. Even if you have your privacy settings restricted to ‘friends only’, be aware that anything you post could potentially be seen by people who you did not intend. When using social networking sites never divulge information, even among people that you personally know, that could be used to steal your identity.
Affect on Your Future Job Prospects
What you post on a social networking site can have a big impact on your reputation, and once something has been posted on the internet for all to see it is often all too difficult to take back. Despite this, however, most people seem completely oblivious to this fact. Many people will admit that they have typed something that they otherwise would never have said out loud.
Damaging your reputation on a social networking sites can have long-lasting consequences and can even affect your future job prospects. The Gloucestershire Citizen recently reported that –
FOUL-MOUTHED Twitter rants blew one 16-year-old’s chance of getting work experience.
And this is not an isolated incident. There are countless examples of people missing out on a job, or even losing their position, because of the things they have posted on a social media website.
UK based recruitment agency Lebreton stated in a recent article –
Make no mistake; potential employers will use the social media profiles of job applicants as a way of finding out information about them.
So take a look at your social media profile. Is there anything on there that you would be embarrassed for your potential employer to see? If so take action to remove it and do not be tempted to type things in your statuses or comments that you otherwise wouldn’t dream of saying in person.
Cyber Bullying and Harassment
Unfortunately cyber bullying is becoming increasingly popular with people being bombarded with distasteful, hateful and even sexually explicit comments every day. Young, naïve people are particularly at risk although just about everyone can be affected.
The Sun made this report on the dangers of social networking:
Bullying and grooming are dangerous realities of “cyber popularity” with almost one in three Facebook users saying they’ve met strangers they befriended online.
The article went on to tell of a 12 year old girl who had over 600 facebook friends, 80 of whom were complete strangers. Of these 30 had requested that they meet up and a further 50 of them had bullied her. The young girl had even received explicit photos and sick messages from men targeting underage girls.
Clearly then, social networks do have their dangers, but these can be avoided by putting in place safety measures such as altering privacy settings and making use of the ability to block people who are offensive. Social networking sites are a great tool in many ways and by being aware of the dangers and using them correctly you can gain great benefit from them.
Ross Davies writes articles on job seeking, employment and socail media. He lives and works in the UK and is married with two sons. In his spare time he enjoys breeding Siamese cats, reading and social networking.