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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Potential Pitfalls of Social Media

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Whenever the term social media is used, what usually springs to mind is Facebook, twitter and Youtube. In reality, all forms of Web based applications are an integral part of social media which undoubtedly has changed the landscape of how we communicate.

I still remember towards the turn of the new millenium when the only way I could contact my sister in London was through a NITEL phonebooth. Mobile phones and other forms of instant communication where few and far between. Then came yahoo messenger, msn and fast forward to a decade later, we have witnessed an explosion of different platforms that facilitates easy communication. The benefits that have followed as a result are enormous and there are many more technologies of this kind that I'm sure will follow suit.

As social media continues to grow and expand with its attendant benefits, our lives and rules of social engagement will continually be shaped by how we use them. I'm a big fan of modern technology and social media certainly falls into that category.

However, the use of pseudo names on social media platforms seems to give some people a false idea that what they type behind their computers or mobile devices in the comfort of their home is anonymous. A visit to a popular Nigerian web forum (which I'll prefer not to mention) seems to reinforce this argument. The use of vitriol and abusive words seems to be the norm and the sad part of it is that it does appear to be acceptable. Most debates seem to quickly turn into a tribal war for no apparent reason.

What people who use abusive and inappropriate language on social media platforms fail to understand is that whatever you put on the web remains forever. Deleting something from a website or web application doesn't necessarily gets rid of it from the web. Websites and social media contents are stored on servers and likely to remain long after you may have forgotten about them or think you've deleted them. We cannot predict where we'll be or what we'll do in say 10 or 20 years from now and you never know in what ways things you've put out on social media platforms may haunt you later in life.

Sometimes we may come across a topic or opinion we don't necessarily agree with, my top tip is not to respond to such issues when emotions are running high. Chances are that you're more likely to write something that you may rue later - try and do so when you're in a better frame of mind.

Recently a UK university student was jailed for aiming racists abuse on twitter at a footballer (Fabrice Muamba) who collapsed during a football match. There have been similar cases of this nature in recent times. What it shows is that what you say on social media is far from being anonymous. I know some people may say they are in Nigeria and it will be difficult to get them but believe me modern tracking technologies can make it very easy in the event your ISP is unable to provide information about you.

The next time you go for a job interview, chances are an Internet search about you may have been carried out. In the US, some employers have gone a step further. I read recently about the practice by some employers asking job applicants their Facebook passwords as part of their job application process. Whilst most social media platforms have security settings to protect our privacy, including our dear blogger, in reality they are all vulnerable to hackers and people with a different agenda. Only few days ago, an anonymous group made the UK Home Office website inaccessible, reinforcing how vulnerable the web can be.

As we blog and enjoy the thrills of using social media platforms, please be measured in what you say. Whatever content you want to share online, photos, video etc, be sure it's something you won't look back later and regret. Whilst I would like to dismiss any perceived perception of scaremongering, it would benefit us to know that each time we use the web, we leave an audit trail of who we are and what we've been up to but let it be for the right reasons.

21 comments:

  1. Totally agree
    I always find it amazing that people feel so comfortable leaving vitriol-filled comments on the web
    I do believe that the internet is a great insight into how twisted and demented a lot of people are.
    It might interest people to know that HR people are increasingly checking the Facebook profiles of job applicants before making final decisions on who is best suited to a job.
    Again, I find it amazing how many people air their dirty linen in public - Who they've dated....Who they've slept with....Who is owing them money etc etc
    Quite sad
    xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is quite sad, a situation I attribute to ignorance. I believe people need to be educated or educate themselves about how the web works. It may help avoid a lot of pitfalls that could potentially happen as a result of irresponsible use.

      Delete
    2. A neighbor of mine was robbed 4 years ago after she announced on her facebook(the old version)page that she was leaving town for two weeks on vacation. Remember when you could post your address on facebook years back? Her house was "cleaned". These hoodlums brought trunks.

      Delete
  2. Your last paragraph totally nailed it. Thanks for this. So some HR people asking for fb passwords? Really?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is happening even though the US congress is planning to put in place legislation to stop the practice. But I would imagine they'll find other ways to snoop at potential job applicants.

      Delete
  3. Facebook passwords, na wa o? That's sooo wrong.
    Anyway, I wrote a poem about the ego of social media last week, it relates to this post a lot. I will put it up in 2 weeks time

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Na wa, no be small thing. It is wrong but personal data/information are goldmine on the web and people are prepred to go to any length to get hold of them. The reason we need to be wary what we do on social media.

      I'm off to your blog to read the poem.

      Delete
  4. I read about the racist rant about Fabrice that got some guy arrested and i thought it was police crossing personal boundaries. but I am just finding that 'policing' of media has been going on for a while. In most cases its not so much of Security agents breaching your freedom, rather it is concerned fb friends who make reports.
    There is such a thin line between freedom of speech and breaking laws

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right about where do we draw the line between freedom of speech and the law. Unfortunately the law is only playing catch up to the speed of modern technology.

      We just need to ensure we don't get caught up in the middle of it all.

      Delete
  5. Thought provoking stuff, bro. So companies are asking job applicants for passwords? Only in america. I don't think anyone would try it in the UK. It's an invasion of privacy...too gross for words. I'm a firm believer in people being allowed to be themselves online...within reason, of course. There's so much pressure to conform in real life, that it's refreshing to express yourself when 'virtual'. There are many ways to ensure ones privacy. People just have to ensure that they keep their public and individual personas apart: formal and informal, professional, private, arty/artistic, individual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a balancing act being yourself but at the same time playing to the rules. Without rules, chaos will reign supreme.

      Delete
  6. I remember when the news went viral here about employers asking for FB passwords. I think that is clearly crossing the line, but indeed, we all need to be more careful how we are on the internet.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I like modern tech too, but not the blatant invasion of privacy associated with it. Now I'm very cautious about what I post on the internet especially personal details & info.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to be cautious whilst enjoying the many benefits of modern technology.

      Delete
  8. Good luck finding my name on the internet....lol
    and for folks that can't help em' selves please use the dam privacy button. fyi the internet is not the right medium to share your private intimate stories....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Truth is that nothing is private on the web.

      Delete
  9. wow, asking for passwords? I know employers do a facebook search before making a decision on an applicant, and I couldn't figure out how they could do it without being a "friend", but I guess asking for a password will do the job. I think its completly invasion of privacy! it's like asking someone to show you their email account. You want a background check? then ask for a Police criminal records check! so i like to update people on what I had for lunch and so that makes me a bad person? pure nonsense!
    Btw, I love reading comments on articles and postings! I get turned off though when the people digress from the actual context and start insulting each other! LMAO, i mean, you don't even know each other
    curiouskinks.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel you, it doesn't sound right asking for private information but it happens. The battle between privacy and freedom of expression will go on for a long time, I'm sure.

      Delete
  10. These are very wise words and I myself try to keep that in mind when I put things up online. The things we post online are forever, and it pays to write with that end in mind. If you won't be proud of it in a few years, don't post it.

    I recently read about how a woman got robbed because she put pictures of her house on Facebook, and someone who recently added her on Facebook was the robber. Online security cannot be over-emphasized. Anonymity is limited and there are ways of uncovering people's identities, like you rightly said.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to read your comments once again and it's pleasing to hear you're using the web responsibly.

      Delete

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