Social media networking can be fun, and generally, it is. You can find friends the world over, and with an online presence, stay in touch with them whenever you want.
There have been several instances of good and deserving deeds done just through your online connections – lost family members have been reunited, lost property owners contacted, lost friends and lovers reunited, and even criminals tracked down. That’s all good, but when your online presence is taken over by unknown persons, that’s when fear sets in.
As reported in this issue of the Indian Weekender, two Auckland women have (recent reported cases) had their Facebook profiles taken over by hackers.
In the cases reported in this issue, imposters took over the women’s profiles and Facebook officials were powerless to prevent the hackers – because the security barriers had been breached easily.
They now live in constant fear of stalkers, and feel violated as their privacy has been invaded, just as home owners feel when their houses have been invaded by burglers.
So just how safe are social media networks?
As Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff puts it: 55 per cent of New Zealanders who thought Facebook was a "private space" was naive.
“So it is slightly risky to assume a social media site is private."
If recent media reports are anything to go buy, cases of cyber bullying among teenagers and young people have soared, mainly due to Facebook.
Facebook, and other social media networks, just like alcohol, can be lots of fun when used/consumed moderately – things go out of hand when the networking privileges are abused.
Does there need to be a control on an age limit for access to social media such as Facebook, just as there is an age limit when you can buy/consume alcohol or even drive a car?
The time may not be far when stricter controls are placed on access to social media sites which end up being abused by those too young to use it responsibly.
Safe networking site www.netsafe.org.nz said there were many different issues which could arise on Facebook like imposter profiles, being locked out of your account, being tagged in photos you didn’t want to be posted, abusive messages on your page or about you on someone else’s page.
“The most common query we have from Facebook users and educators is how to report and/or block a fake profile.
“You can report a profile that violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities by clicking the “Report/Block this Person” link in the bottom left column of the profile, usually underneath the list of friends.”
The advent of social media in our societies has brought with it new dimensions which challenge the very fabric of society in some cases.
The fact is when you have posted something online, it ceases to be private. Period.