Tech Time: Online Networking (Social Networking)

Social Networking has been a hot topic for years. It has moved from an obscure concept to a revolution in Internet usage for both private individuals and major companies across the globe.
At it’s most basic, social networking is interacting with people over the Internet; but it’s more than just email. Social networking sites integrate the user experience with the lifestyle experience. Users share thoughts, images, video, games, contacts and much more. Hi5, Bebo, MySpace and Facebook started and/or sustained major social networking trends. Even dedicated image and video sharing sites have contributed to the social networking juggernaut, sites like Flickr, Photo Bucket, YouTube and Vimeo gave the world a window into our lives. Twitter, FourSquare, Ning and others have since emerged to push the social networking wave even further.

Through social networking, we have been able to connect with old friends and long lost relatives, find a job, build a business and if not used appropriately exposed our vulnerabilities to anyone who cares to see.

Fulfilling the maxim, too much of a good thing is bad, social networking is both good and bad. So let’s take a moment to look and the bad and protect ourselves.

Three simple words – private is public. By posting information to the Internet, we are in effect giving that information away. Various privacy and security protocols and controls simply limit the possibility of persons getting access. So, simple rule of thumb, do NOT post anything that you would not want to get into the wrong hands.

Hackers aside, there are other persons who could, intentionally or unintentionally, cause you harm. Even your “friends” may download, re-post or share images, video and information you intended just for them with third parties you wished never existed. There are very few controls in place that can prevent persons, to which you have given access, from doing you harm.

Then, there are the applications. Often we don’t think twice about allowing third party applications and other programmes to access our social networking accounts. If you wouldn’t just let anyone in your house, why would you let all sorts of apps access your account. Malicious third party applications can seize control of our contact list, send out spam messages, capture our private information and generally ruin our lives. OK, maybe that is a little over the top. But the message remains, be aware and take care as you build your social networks.

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