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Dangers of social networking

It has been waaayy too long without any sort of update and I did not want anyone to think that I left the world unexpectedly. But I just wanted to get something off of my chest... social networking.

Okay, okay. I'm not trying to be a soothsayer and to get you to stop using social networking (like Facebook, MySpace, etc). There are indeed many uses where social networking helps businesses reach out to a wider audience and for individuals to regularly keep in contact with family around the world. However, if not used right it can turn your world upside down which is what this article is all about.

The following article describes a number of factors to consider so that your safety and well-being are not compromised.

Personal Safety

You should pay particular attention to the public/private settings of your account. Keeping your whole profile public would leave you open to potential predators. Now these very naughty people disguise themselves under fake profiles so may realise it too late.

To ensure your safety you should only accept friend invites from people you actually know. Also, it would be good to keep your profile and updates private so everything stays within your circle.

Another risk to consider are your friends. You may have gone out for a bender with them one night and they may have taken photos of you doing something you will later regret (e.g. taking drugs or stealing a shop sign). Keep an eye on people that also tag you in photos. If they are "compromising" ask your friendly, politely, to remove the photo.

Tip #1: Check the security settings on your profile you should be able to specify only friends can see updates.
Tip #2: I know in Facebook you can "un-tag" yourself from photos that where your friends have tagged you. Click "remove tag" next to the name in the list of people in the picture. Have a look and see if your social network has such an ability.

Identity Theft

There is such a thing as giving too much information. The way social networking is designed it is easy to divulge and share personal intimate information - even photos. Those who commit identity fraud can use basic information obtained from such sites.

Tip #3: Think how much information you are willing to give: do you really need to publicise your location, email address, phone number, etc? I'm guessing your friends should pretty much know this already.

Encouraging Robbery

Now this is such a rookie mistake and happens very often. To continue on the theme of giving too much information, do you really want to let people know that you're away from home or will be? Doing so will give robbers the opportunity to pick their next job.

Tip #4: Think about the photos you upload. Don't upload so many photos that give away the layout of your house. You're just showing the crooks where the loot is.
Tip #5: Update your status when you get back from holiday. Otherwise your house is just for easy picking.

Phishing

Yes. Phishing emails is not just copying banks. You may end up with emails claiming to be from your social network where hackers may try to gain control of your account and spam your friends. Be cautious of emails trying to get you to update your account details.

Tip #6: Before clicking on a link from Facebook, always remember to check the address bar, which should always display "www.facebook.com/" and nothing else like "www.facebook33.tk" or "www.facebook1.php", etc. which is a giveaway of a phisher.

Getting or keeping that job

Probably the most important aspect to keep on your minds at all times. Nowadays, prospective employers are searching for you on these social networks just to see what kind of person you are and what you have been up to.

So I would strongly recommend keeping that account private. Also as mentioned before keep an eye out for inappropriate photos - you don't want that future boss to spot those. Some may go as far as requesting your password or asking you to log in during the interview. Never, never, never give out that password! Nor should you entertain them by logging in during the interview.

If those bosses lack any trust then you should walk out that door. Trust is a major issue and that should say enough about the potential manager. You're not that desperate for the job to violate your privacy. Should that happen and they are adamant, I would complain straight away to the recruitment agency.

Tip #7: Remember that there are no laws that gives potential employers the right to violate your privacy.
Tip #8: At this point you should realise that it's bad idea to publicly complain about a current or previous employer

Privacy 

Read those T&Cs as see what happens to your stuff. After all those u-turns by Facebook people are just plain confused about what happens to those videos and pictures. In short, it's now theirs. Yes, they keep the stuff including the rights to them. Delete your account, still there. So think about what you are going to upload.

Tip #9: Once it's on the Internet, it'll never disappear from the Internet.

Wrap up

If I scared you, sorry! That was not my intention. Just tread carefully so you don't put yourself or your friends in an awkward situation.

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