Most people are familiar with social media, and many of those people check in regularly to sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for a number of reasons. Many people simply want a convenient tool to communicate with their friends, or post pictures of themselves or their family members. LinkedIn users like the networking feature which allows them to grow their business contacts, and develop robust business relationships. Regardless of its wondrous applications and its ability to streamline our communications, social media has a dark side. The dark side of social media includes phishing, sexual offenses, cyberbullying, and loss of privacy.
/> According to businessdictionary.com (2015), phishing is defined as "the act of acquiring private or sensitive data from personal computers for use in fraudulent activities. Phishing is usually done by sending emails that seem to appear to come from credible sourceswhich require users to put in personal data such as a credit card number or social security number. This information is then transmitted to the hacker and utilized to commit acts of fraud" (businessdictionary.com, internet). For example, merely entering one's password and username into a fake Facebook log-in page could give hackers the opportunity to steal your personal identity -- identity theft. Thus, using social media sites comes with a caveat that few users taske seriously. However, identity theft has become more common, as hackers seem to be two steps of Information Technology (IT) specialists who attempt to fix this type of cybercrime.
In addition to phishing and identity theft, sex offenders and would-be sex offenders "troll" many social media sites -- Facebook included -- for minors to solicit for sex. For example, according to Ybarra & Mitchell (2008), when the internet usage of nearly 1600 youth between the ages of 10 and 15 were monitored over the period of one year, about 15% of them reported some form of sexual harassment, and nearly 1/3 of them reported some form of on-line harassment (Ybarra & Mitchell, 350). Thus, attempts to sexually solicit minors via social media are not uncommon, and parents are forced to be more vigilant about their children's on-line presence.
Whenever anyone uses a social media site, they are taking the risk that their privacy is protected. However, when our own federal government fails to respect the right to privacy, and violates our fourth amendment rights (warrantless searches), there is little or no accountability and protection. Under the auspices of protected US citizens from terrorists, the National Security Agency (NSA) has been intercepting phone calls, as well as hacking social media sites (Sherman, internet). This sort of government invasion of privacy is not only unconstitutional, but it undermines people's faith in the government to protect them from hackers and other on-line criminals. After all, if the government can do it, what would stop anyone else from thinking that infringing on others' privacy is both wrong and illegal? Granted, the government claims that its warrantless spying was done to prevent terrorist attacks, most of the data that it "mined" was personal information about the average citizen's private lives.
While social media and its usage continues to grow almost unfettered, it holds great promise for freedom and democracy. Many people rely on its educational, occupational, and personal usage. However, few people heed the fact that that social media has its downside, and fewer still demand changes in its modus operandi. Therefore, users must approach social media with caution, and the most important caveat to remember before sharing their personal information is "user beware", as the dark side of social media poses its own unique dangers.
"Phishing". (2015). (n.p.). Retrieved on 19 Jun 2015 from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/phishing.html
Sherman, Erik. (12 Jun, 2013). "A day in the life of Big Brother." Retrieved on 19 Jun 2015 from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-day-in-the-life-of-big-brother/
Ybarra, Michele L. & Mitchell, Kimberly J. (2008). "How Risky Are Social Networking Sites? A Comparison of Places Online Where Youth Sexual Solicitation and Harassment Occurs." Pediatrics, 121; 350-357.