The scary side of Social Networking

3 08 2009

With the popularity of social networking sites continuing to grow at massive rates, adding thousands of new users every day, we must still tread with caution. Every week we see experts step forward to advise us that platforms like Twitter and Facebook can easily ruin our reputations.

One such recent report is by Zatz Publishing’s editor-in-chief David Gewirtz, which was reported by the Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog.

In the article Gewirtz says that when it comes to social networking, it’s not what you know, or even who you know, it’s who knows you. The report is aptly titled: “The Dark Side of Social Networking.”

Gerwitz adds: “social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn are the increasingly popular community services that are designed to help people stay in touch.”

The Bulldog article cites research from Nielsen Company that “more than two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visit social networking sites at least once a month, and nearly 10% of all time spent online is devoted to social networking.”

Due to this popularity and growth, and an army of undisciplined users, Gewirtz adds that “social networks are attracting scammers and criminals. The bulk of social networkers are between the ages of 18 and 49 — prime employment years, and ages where a mistake today could haunt them for many years into the future.”

Gewirtz’s report explores the following issues:

 Employment: how social networking can lead to career suicide
 Reputation: how something you say now could haunt you for years into the future.
 Malware, phishing and identity scams: how using services like Facebook and Twitter without caution could cause you serious financial loss
 Physical security and stalking: how social networks give stalkers and other scary people an almost minute-by-minute update on your habits and haunts

As for physical risks, Gerwitz says “the potential for horror is enormous. If a criminal can easily find out where you are, what stores you frequent, what your daily habits are, who your friends are, and even what your personal food, entertainment, and beverage preferences are, you can be targeted with a level of ease never before possible. I worry that there is a deep and dangerous dark side to social networks and I worry about the potential victims.”

Yikes, scary stuff. You have been warned!

(Gerwitz’s quotes and observations sourced from the Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog article). Also posted this on TechPRNibbles.