Social networking sites are one of the most in demand online destinations on the World Wide Web. In the United States of America, Facebook and Twitter top the list of the most popular Web Sites. The question is which among the two meets users’ social networking needs? Should social networking be limited to the people they know? Regardless, social networking sites should serve their utmost purpose in enabling their users connect with their families and friends–to enjoy the freedom of expression–by letting them express their individualities in their respective pages and sites without compromising their welfare and the confidentiality of their information. On the other hand, user should likewise consider the risks in posting and sharing information online. For the Internet and social networking have their challenges too–they have advantages, but they have given disadvantages as well. To be mindful of both, will lessen the likelihood of anyone getting into troubles. To be neglectful of both could be very pricey (tangibly and intangibly speaking), and the damages to one’s being could be beyond repair. Therefore, caution is highly encouraged.
In the world of social networking, geared with wide array of collaborated activities, wherein users can interact with one another, Facebook beats all sites. And to Mark Zuckerberg’s delight, its younger sister Site, Instagram is not so far behind. However, many users of Facebook have cancelled their accounts and has moved to Twitter, and their unanimous concern was the plague of hackers, identity thieves, and con artists. However, are users really safe on Twitter?
Currently, Twitter users enjoy the site’s micro-blogging (posting in brief) features. It is widely used by public figures; politicians, entertainment personalities, and athletes. Twitters can “tweet” or send or post messages of 140 characters. The concept of instant messaging is what Twitter is selling. And it is nearly the same thing as Facebook’s Status, wherein users can post about 200 characters on their respective wall (Web page). If the messages exceed more than the allowed characters, the site will direct users to its note page that looks like a blog or a journal.
On privacy, in an article featured at Issues & Controversies, Twitter’s inability to secure private information was exposed. The article further stated that “there have been other incidents where people’s tweets have gotten them in serious troubles and major controversies” (1). Just like what happened to Octavia Nasr (editor of Mideast Affairs of CNN). In 2010, she tweeted an expression of sadness over the death of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Faddlah, a Muslim cleric thought to have close ties with an Islamic militant group. (2)
In the same year, Facebook automatically reset all privacy settings for all their users’ profiles, as sighted in that same article at Issues & Controversies. (3) Despite this development, Facebook users still complain about heavy marketing and advertisements, that many believe pose great risks to all its users, as they collect private information. The New York Times editorial once wrote in 2010, that Facebook allow its users to share their “tastes” and interests so freely with their families and friends, but at the same time it collects information and provide them to advertisers along with users’ other preferences. (4) In that same article, Zuckerberg defended FB; claiming its features and services, were simply the glowing trend of the Internet age.
Personally, I agree with Zuckerberg, and that’s the toughest challenge of the Internet and social networking. And it is the very reason too, why I cancelled my accounts on both Facebook and Twitter. Because I am simply tired hearing nutty excuses from a lousy businessman like Zuckerberg. I am simply tired of his alibis for not doing good business amidst raking billions; and yet he still inconsiderately disregard everyone’s safety. I don’t think he and the rest are really doing their best to make it safe for all of us. Yes, this is the Internet age, however, shouldn’t they (owners and operators of social networking Sites) have the responsibilities to keep us safe? For although they’re Sites are free, but there are risks that can ruin our credit scores, our reputation, our names, who knows, even our lives. Therefore businessmen like Zuckerberg and all other networking site owners and operators who are making fortune out of our enthusiasm and interests, should really have that sense of responsibility in ensuring our safety, or at least our information’s security by strictly upholding confidentiality and protecting our privacy. Moreover, to date, there is no law; no international law that can bring any cyber crime to justice. For though there are laws in place in every country, they are all weak and they have so many loopholes, and they are never applicable to cyber criminals operating outside their jurisdictions.
Worse, Site owners and operators like Zuckerberg refuse to be regulated.
And because they refuse to be regulated, they are making the Net a wilderness of this Digital Age. Because by simply being neglectful, they are letting various “species” of predators infiltrate the World Wide Web–and in so doing, they are compromising our privacy. And although, we are thankful for the knowledge, the revolution and the empowerment that comes with it, we just can’t disregard the daunting reality, that we are getting so prone to notorious modus operandis operating globally; and whose crimes are getting meaner and more sophisticated just as innovation of technologies inevitably spur in every bit of a second.
In this regard, it is best to keep in mind: We, indeed, have responsibilities to ourselves; and, that is to be safe and stay safer by being vigilant in safeguarding our information online.
In a research study, entitled Clash of the Titans, written by Malhotra Gunjan, Maheshwari Aditya, and Raju Abin G, for the Institute of Management Technology of India, the scholars stated that most privacy risks at Facebook exist because users carelessly post their personal information on their Websites. (5) “Facebook members reveal a lot of information about themselves and are not very aware of privacy options or who can actually view their profile” (6).
The truth is no social networking Wesbite is free from the disadvantages and limitations of the Internet. Because the “bad geeks;” hackers, identity thieves and con artists are too smart and too diligent to find ways of doing their evil works. And the self professed “good geeks” like Zuckerberg are too stupid, too lazy, and too greedy to just collect billions of dollars out of our accounts, trust, and vulnerabilities–so sad, but very true, and pretty scary!
Therefore we should own the responsibility of securing our information. For it will never hurt, to be mindful of both advantages and disadvantages of both Internet and social networking (and blogging should not be an exemption). For when we post private information in a public domain, they are of course free to the general public (which include the bad geeks). For when we post private information to a public domain, we are apparently waiving our rights to privacy.
On a more personal note, yes, I used to have accounts on both Twitter and Facebook. On Facebook, I did used it to connect with my families and friends. I used it to play cyber games. I did used Facebook to post my progress in academics and to share them to my family. On Twitter, I used it to promote my blogs, my posts, and my blogger friends’ blogs and posts. However, allow me to reiterate: They are closed already–and I have no regret. Because I realized I would never be safe on any of them. Moreover, both accounts were hacked–and some bad geeks used my accounts to send messages on my behalf and without my consent–I was so embarrassed, but I couldn’t blame anyone except myself–for in social networking caveat emptor (buyer’s beware) applies. And I should have known better.
Finally, when one chooses a social networking Site, one must first identify the purpose, because it could narrow down the selection criteria. Some people use those Sites to sell something; to announce or promote a product or an event, or an organization, but some just want to connect. Regardless, it is a must to know the purpose in opening an account for one to maximize and enjoy their services and be safe at the same time. Most importantly, one should keep in mind, that the Internet has limitations and risks. For being online, our private information are never safe– the “bad geeks” have their ways, so we should always be cautious .
In conclusion, connecting with families and friends, or to the World Wide Web should not be so troublesome. It should not be troublesome only if everyone of us would behave ethically; and we would e-deal responsibly. For regardless, if one chooses Twitter over Facebook, or any networking Sites like WordPress, extra caution is a must when posting information anywhere on the Web. Let us not give the bad geeks, neither the lousy businessmen “easy money” by letting them take advantage of our vulnerabilities–let us stop being vulnerable by imposing regulations among ourselves. Yes, we are in the Digital Age, and this age is not going anywhere. But this is something we are now sharing with our kids; something we will leave for the next generations to rely on. It is too late to act now, for our kids and our kids’ kids. Because for all we know, the “bad geeks” aren’t humans. Yes, they are not aliens, but they could be bots (short for robots)–heartless; ruthless, and definitely, shameless. Beware!
Academically written by: Sabiniana Balagtas Baliba
Submitted to: George Garneau, Ph.D.
For: English 100,
As required by: University of Hawaii,
Kapiolani Community College
On: 27 February 2012
In: Modern Language Association format
Edited and published as posted.