Social networking sites in our society Essay

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Social Networking involves the use of the internet to connect users with their friends, family and acquaintances. It is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighborhood subdivision, if you will. Although social networking is possible in person, especially in the workplace, universities, and high schools, it is most popular online. Social networking websites are not necessarily about meeting new people online, although this does happen. Instead, they are primarily about connecting with friends, family and acquaintances you already have in real life. Social Networking Sites bring together resources such as email, instant messaging, etc. in one place. The conveniency of this promotes fast and frequent communication. . The most well-known social networking sites are Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Bebo. It allows you to share photos, videos and information, organize events, chat, download music and even play games.

These sites have changed the way individuals communicate with the world, however, everyday designers are finding new and innovative ways in which they can use the sites to connect one person to the rest of society. To our generation Social Networking Sites are part of everyday life. Sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Xanga, and programs such as iChat, AIM, and Adium have revolutionized the ways in which people communicate. It used to be that e-mail had replaced traditional mailing systems, but now instant messaging replaces phone calls and wall posting replaces even e-mails.

Significance of the Study Social networking sites have morphed into a mainstream method for teens and adults to exchange information about themselves, share pictures and videos, and use blogs and private messages to communicate with friends, others who share interests, and sometimes even the world-at-large. It allows you to express yourself and keep in touch with friends by exchanging messages or comments and posting personal profiles describing who you are and your interests, blogs or online diaries, photos, creative writing, artwork, videos, and music. The purpose of social networking sites have not digressed from the initial intentions of their creation.

Social media spark a revelation that we, the people, have a voice, and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite change. Like all technology, social media is neutral but is best put to work in the service of building a better world. Crime and Social Networking Sites

Do you constantly update your status on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other such social networking websites? Do you tell your online contacts where you go, what you do, and whom you are with? If you do, you are unintentionally extending an open invitation to burglars and antisocial elements. It sounds pretty harmless, right? After all, what could go wrong with sharing some information with your friends online? As it turns out, a lot could go wrong. Studies show that an alarmingly large number of burglars use social networking websites to identify potential properties for burglary. A survey conducted among ex-burglars shows that 78% of ex-burglars used Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare to target potential properties and 74% of them used Google Street View to scope out potential properties and know more about the location.

The Way It Works Annie decides to go on a vacation. She shares the information with her friends by posting the following message on Facebook and Twitter. “Going on a vacation with my family on Nov 21st. Looking forward to a great time. Bahamas, here I come.” One of her online contacts, who happens to be a burglar, reads this message and proceeds to do what any burglar in his place would do. He checks out her profile, makes a note of her address, and uses Google Maps to take a good, close look at the property he is about to burgle. Annie has also posted a lot of photos of her household items – right from the hi-tech home theater system to the super expensive crystal vase – to let her friends know that she truly lives in style. The burglar also takes a good look at these photos to get an idea of what he is about to get his hands on. Having all the details he could possibly ask for, the burglar pays a quiet visit to Annie’s house, takes everything he wants, and leaves without a trace. The scenario could be a little different for different people.

Some may post the details of the charity event they are about to attend, some may reveal that they are watching a movie with their family, and someone else may tell their friends about the wedding they are about to attend. Whatever the scenario is, the result is likely to be the same – A planned, calculated burglary. Studies show that it takes only two minutes for a burglar to break into a home and only about ten minutes to steal everything. In other words, it does not matter if you are going on a long vacation or going out to have a cup of coffee. All a burglar needs is 10 to 15 minutes of alone-time with your property. So, it is never a good idea to reveal your whereabouts online.

The Stalker Syndrome Posting your photos online and revealing too much personal information can also attract the attention of stalkers, sexual predators, identity thieves, scammers, and other such unwanted elements. For example, Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, used Facebook to know more about his female classmates and stalked them. Similarly, in 2006, a cyber stalker sent death threats to a Kansas University student, posted her photos on his website, and published derogatory remarks about her looks. Teenagers, in particular, fall for this trap as they often reveal too much information in an attempt to ‘open themselves up’ to find true love or friendship. This is why a lot of colleges and universities these days ask their students to be very cautious and not share their personal details with strangers online.

The Other Side of the Coin Social networking is not all bad either. There have been a number of instances where social media websites have been used to catch the bad guys. In February 2007, police nabbed a University of Connecticut student and charged him for hit-and-run by following leads via Facebook. In October 2008, police charged an Alberta based man with first-degree murder charges by monitoring his Facebook activity, which turned out to be an important piece of evidence. There have also been many instances where burglars, bullies, rapists, and miscreants have been caught by the police with the help of social media outlets. As a result, law enforcement agencies use social networking websites as a weapon to catch criminals. The Salt Lake City Police Department, for example, has set up an online community policing program to stay in touch with people and solve crimes.

Effects of Social Networks During the last ten years, social networks have evolved from simple communication hubs to veritable agents of change; galvanizing thousands of people over political discourse, creating and changing industries, and all in all, transforming people’s lives. Just couple of years back, many people dismissed Facebook as a place for kids to share their rants/pictures. Today, more than 600 million users worldwide are active on this website. Approximately 200 million people are active on twitter, another 100 million use LinkedIn. None of these social networks even excited at the beginning of the decade. While these figures may be mere numbers for many people, the impact of social network goes far and deep.

Politics and public service Just as personal computers changed the face of businesses forever, social networks have altered the operational model of politics and public service. Facebook has become the touchstone for how non-profit organizations, environmental activities, and political factions reach out to thousands of potential volunteers and donors. Twitter is being used by almost all progressive politicians to promote their causes. Thanks to the social networks, politics is no longer limited to the political elites; people voice their opinions, share their ideas, and even communicate with politicians on a one-on-one basis. It’s a technology lesson that progressive politicians have to learn or else, risk losing to the tech savvy youth of today.

Marketing and advertising Marketing and advertising are transforming themselves from industries reliant on mass market channels to those that must embrace the power of the customer, and attempt to engage in conversations with them. Often, a “middle man” (such as news paper reporter) ultimately determined that what was written or said. The ability to bypass gatekeepers and facilitate direct interactions with consumers and communities is very important.

Journalism Today it is quick and easy for anyone to share links with a large number of people via Facebook or Twitter, without involving of a traditional media organization. Some news websites already present visitors with a list of stories recommended by their friends because they realize an endorsement from ‘someone you know’ carries extra weight. On the other hand, social networks have also given unprecedented rise to citizen journalism. From traffic updates, to natural riots, anyone and everyone who has access to social networking sites can report his/her version of such events. Sifting through the humongous amount of news, speculations and analysis are abilities that a New Media user must now possess.

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