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Author: Steve Smakin
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The Dangers of Social Networking

A social network is a social structure which consists of individuals or groups which are interconnected to each other by principles such as common interests, financial exchange, friendships, relationships, beliefs, etc.

Social networks are divided into two groups i.e. generic networks, which exist foremost to keep in touch and specialized networks in which the main cause is to gather people with common interests together.

Based on these definitions, Facebook, Myspace and Bebo are considered as generic and Flickr, LibraryThing and Flixter as specialized networks.

With the expansion of social networking in 2005., these sites experienced a massive upturn. Number of social networking users has doubled since 2007.

With more than 600 million active users on Facebook, 200 million on Twitter and 34 million numbers on Myspace shows that social networks are an extremely important component of our everyday life.

Social networks have tons of benefits. Social networking is a good way to meet people with similar interests or to keep in touch with people you already know.

Also, some social networking sites offer  advertising to its subscribers. However, as many up-sides there are of social networking so are there plenty of dangers:

With the expansion of social networks, there are plenty more opportunities for cyber-crime. There are a lot of people using these social networks who are new to technology and are not aware of the risks of potential dangers.

* Social networking sites are overflowing with children under 13. Children under this age should not be using the Internet without parental supervision. Most of the sites have a minimum age limit, but faking age online could not be easier.

It's a common phenomenon that these children put too much private information online, such as home addresses and the school they are going to, which can lead to serious danger, and this kind of children activity should not be taken for granted.

* There are numerous cyber-criminals who are trying to steal personal information that can be used for crimes such as identity theft or fraud. Once someone has your password, they can use it to destroy your profile and send spam messages, which can do much harm considering you might have your business associates as friends on Facebook, Myspace, etc.

* Social networking sites can also have a bad impact on schooling and employment. Many students are getting in trouble with University administrators for inappropriate content on their profiles.

Many people are turned down for jobs and internships due to these contents. Compromising pictures and statements can negatively effect the chances of employment for students.

* According to some research, more than 1 out of 10 teenagers has posted a nude or semi-nude picture of themselves or others online.

And the parents, of course, have no idea what their kids are up to when they take pictures for social sites profiles and spend 10 hours a day on the Internet.

Also, one survey also found that a quarter of teenagers had posted something compromising that they had to regret later, bullied others or created a false identity online.

* Common photo sharing can also be dangerous because child molesters and sexual deviants can search through these sites and bookmark their favorite photos of young boys and girls.

However, there are a few effective ways to decrease the rate of potential dangers online:

* You should never be too relaxed, thinking these kinds of things could not happen to you. Social networks are massive and still growing bigger, and by that online crime is also increasing. If you own a social networking site profile, any of these things could easily happen to you.

* Do not trust everyone. Although connecting with people with same interests is the whole point of social networking, just because someone claims they love something does not really mean they do. Online, you should rarely believe new and strange people are what they say they are.

* Keep an eye on your profile and be selective about whom you decide to connect it with. For photo sharing sites, keep eye on the users that mark your photos as their favorites.

* Do not hesitate to report suspicious behaviour to the site if you have a reason to believe that someone is a scammer, a sexual predator, or in any way a threat to you.

A person who is endangering you can in the same time endanger plenty other people, and the social site could not know a thing about their behaviour because no one reported it.

* If you are worried for your children, install some monitoring software to watch their behavior. Mostly children are victims of these crimes, and they are doing dangerous things without knowing it, mostly because they are not educated enough about them.

In conclusion, you have to decide yourself is fun and joy of social networking worth of risking danger for you, your friends, and your children. Although some sites seem safe at first, social networking sites will never get rid of scammers and criminals who unmercifully attack their users.

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