Social networking sites are intended to be online communities where you can ‘let your hair down’ while socializing with others. The lack of formality and anything goes mentality is meant to create a casual atmosphere at these social sites for participants.
Online social networking has in fact become so popular that it has become a breeding ground for certain predators. The fact that these sites are open to the public for anyone to join also makes it easy to access and view the conversations at any of the social network sites.
In essence what we have are private conversations that can be viewed by just about anybody. It is therefore wise for members of any of these social sites to practice a little discretion when leaving comments or information since you can’t be sure who may view it.
Let’s look at 3 types of risks you may expose yourself to if you’re not careful when posting any comments or information on any of the social network sites.
Although socially intermingling does encourage you to relax and ‘let your hair down’ be aware that many companies or organizations have access to these same sites. It has become a common practice for any information or comments left on a site to be used to ‘profile’ that person. So opinions, preferences, or interests could potentially damage you or your career if they fall into the hands of the wrong ‘professional’ sources.
Online Criminal Risks
Phishers, bots, or other elements with less then pure intentions literally troll the social networks in search of any personal information they can find. Their intentions could range from stealing a password to your email to much more sensitive financial information with far greater potential to do damage to you. Extortion, identity theft, or even black mail could be the result so exercise caution and realize that you NEVER know who may be ‘listening’ to your conversations.
Offline Asset or Property Risk
Risks on a more ‘physical’ level are quite possible when releasing the ‘wrong’ information on any online community. Comments that indicate your home address, marital status, or even vacation or work schedule could be used by predators to locate and pilfer your habitat or worse. It is always wise to routinely exercise caution at any of these sites. If people you’re already conversing with are your friends they already know these intricate details about you or your life. There’s otherwise no need to restate any sensitive details online since this poses a potentially harmful risk to you.
The idea behind social networking sites is terrific and obviously a huge hit with the masses. Making available online communities in which you can discuss interest or events with like minded people was something needed online. It is however wise for anyone using these social sites to exercise a little caution when posting comments or information. Online social networking sites are easy access to the general public therefore assume that all your posted information will be on display. By not posting anything you wouldn’t want the general public to see you’ve taken great strides towards protecting yourself online.
By John Barney