What are social networking sites?
Social networking sites, sometimes referred to as “friend-of-a-friend” sites, build upon the concept of traditional social networks where you are connected to new people through people you already know. The purpose of some networking sites may be purely social, allowing users to establish friendships or romantic relationships, while others may focus on establishing business connections. Although the features of social networking sites differ, they all allow you to provide information about yourself and offer some type of communication mechanism (forums, chat rooms, email, instant messenger) that enables you to connect with other users. On some sites, you can browse for people based on certain criteria, while other sites require that you be “introduced” to new people through a connection you share. Many of the sites have communities or subgroups that may be based on a particular interest. Social networking sites and apps, such as facebook, whatsapp, instagram, linkedin, snapchat, viber, 2go,twitter (obviously, the list is endless) have become incredibly popular in recent years.
Attackers may use them to distribute malicious code. Sites that offer applications developed by third parties are particularly susceptible. Attackers may be able to create customized applications that appear to be innocent while infecting your computer or sharing your information without your knowledge.
Social networking sites rely on connections and communication, so they encourage you to provide a certain amount of personal information. When deciding how much information to reveal, people may not exercise the same amount of caution as they would when meeting someone in person because
- the internet provides a sense of anonymity
- the lack of physical interaction provides a false sense of security
- they tailor the information for their friends to read, forgetting that others may see it
- they want to offer insights to impress potential friends or associates
While the majority of people using these sites do not pose a threat, malicious people may be drawn to them because of the accessibility and amount of personal information that’s available. The more information malicious people have about you, the easier it is for them to take advantage of you. Predators may form relationships online and then convince unsuspecting individuals to meet them in person. That could lead to a dangerous situation.
Making ‘friends’ Online
We all know it’s not healthy to spend hours and hours in front of a computer screen. But another problem with social networking is the pressure you can feel to make sure you have lots of ‘friends’. But here are some things to remember:
- Friendships made online are made by clicking a button rather than talking to people and sharing experiences.
- Being online friends with someone is much less meaningful than face to face friendship.
- You can easily fall out with an online ‘friend’ because of a misunderstood comment.
- It is far easier, and healthier, to sort out arguments and problems when you can talk to someone face to face.
So although you might know someone who likes to boast about how many ‘friends’ they’ve got on their social networking site, remember that real friendships aren’t made by computers.
Henry Obinna Nwoke is a versatile and strategic Information Technologist with over ten years online experience in Information and Digital Marketing training and implementation.
Henry also serves as Grow360’s lead columnist on Teens’ LifeStyle.