Can 400 million people be wrong?
I doubt it.
Facebook is the single greatest social networking site ever created. It connects because its connected over time periods, age groups, generations and even nations. It’s easy to use, fun to do and you can do it anywhere. It’s more personable than any site going and let’s be honest, its addictive as well. At any given time, 30 percent of the world’s web traffic is Facebook.
Oh, by the way, the site is barely six years old.
But Facebook is far from perfect and it’s those hidden imperfections that can cause problems. Maybe a better word for them is dangers. Threats to your privacy, your security and possibly your life. That may sound like a dramatic outcome for the use of a website, but that’s the problem with Facebook.
The site allows us to share everything with the people we consider friends, but the local experts I spoke with tell me its easy to build a false sense of security. It’s easy to share whatever items you want with your friends and not worry about having your privacy invaded.
However, associate CMU professor Lorrie Cranor who works in the school’s internationally known Cybersecurity Lab. She says something as simple as posting your complete date of birth could compromise your social security number. Putting your pet’s name on the page could be trouble if you also happen to use that as your password. Even your year of graduation from college could give those tech-savvy thieves a chance to evade your privacy.
Cranor’s suggestion is not to friend everyone on Facebook, which is something many do in that non-stop attempt to build a growing network of friends.
She also advises you to use the privacy setting page which will allow to control what is seen and what is not …. and by whom. She also recommends proof-reading your page. There is a function that allows you to see what your page looks like to the rest of the world. You might be surprised what you are telling people when you see it from their point of view.
Professor Michael Spring of Pitt’s information sciences department says Facebook has the potential to be the most powerful communications tool of our tome, but we also have to remember we haven’t figured out how to use it to its potential yet. We are still learning what it can and cannot do and as the site changes, we need to adapt and be careful. The newest change will allow your friends to actually see you location using a Facebook GPS system. Sounds cool, but do you want everyone to know where you live?
Much of what we have been talking about affects all Facebook users, but there is a special danger to young adults … and it has nothing to do with privacy settings. As adults, we can all remember doing something stupid, silly or embarrassing. The difference is there were not social network sites for us to post our silliness. Now there are … and veteran advisor Dave Como of Avonworth High School says that can comeback to haunt young people as young adults.
We all know employers will look at Facebook pages. That’s been a given for a couple of years, but more and more colleges are using Facebook as a source to learn about their applicants. While it’s not universal, if there are red flags in a college application, Facebook will be one way for schools to look into the character of their applicants.
All these dangers and we have yet to mention the most frightening of all: the stalker. Just recently , a group of teens in northwest Pennsylvania fell victim to a New York man who sent naked pictures of themselves to their cell phones. He says he got their numbers by contacting them on Facebook and MySpace.
Folks, the bottom line here is you can protect yourself … using common sense and Facebook’s privacy setting. We have a link to all those pages below: