The Dangers of Social Networking


By Elizka Watt

As seen in Pegasus Pages (June 2013).

I am not on Facebook.  Nor am I on Twitter.  Nor Bebo.  Nor MySpace.  Nor Tumblr, nor YouTube, nor any of the varied and diverse Social Networks out there. When people ask me as to why I am not, I grow tired of explaining the intricacies of the dangerous world of cyber communication.  When people tell me of the “good” of social networking sites, I want to shake them out of sheer despair, especially when I’ve recently given them a lecture on the subject. Those of you who know me will know I enjoy lecturing. Sorry, everybody.

On the 23rd April, 2013, Ms Jardine-Young mentioned a book in Prayers. This was especially interesting to me as I own it.  It is called, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  And even though I am not particularly introverted when it comes to having my views known, I believe in one single principle: we need to talk, not type.

If I wanted to, I could Google your name and find your Facebook page, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. From that, I could deduce everything about your life as I could find your “friends”, what they like, which bands they listen to, the correlations in the characters among yourselves. Sherlock Holmes, eat your heart out.

Look at what you put on there, you carefree teenagers, unaware students. Your grandparents knew this: Careless Talk Costs Lives! And sometimes it actually does. It is not always so extreme, but this sort of carelessness, disclosing so much personal information online, can lead to negative consequences.

Examples are ever-present in the news. Paris Brown, the girl who was made Crime Commissioner, the one who posted on Twitter things that made the Public gasp? She lost her job.

I have no sympathy for her. But I also think she should have been kept on because she had the first-hand experience of the stupidity that hits the population when they think that they can broadcast anonymously to the world, show off, and look satirical and sarcastic as well. She is a prime example of first-hand stupidity of how far people let themselves go.

I challenge you to look me in the eye and tell me: “I haven’t written anything personal, telling the world about myself, on a Social Network.” Unless you’re Saint Peter, you have. You have stripped your identity bare to the world and no matter how far you tighten your privacy settings, everybody knows you. Personally.

There is a reason that book is entitled Power of introverts. There is a time where being introverted and not displaying yourself can be you greatest asset.

Truth be told, the Internet knows you better than you, your mother, and your shrink combined.  The accumulation of your data – “big data” as it is known – is only truly used to make statistics. Unless you happen to be a threat to National Security, it is highly unlikely that some spook is reading your emails microscopically, even though you happen to live near GCHQ.

As per the Leveson Inquiry, which dealt with press regulation and the business of the leaking of information to the media, the culture of leaking information goes deeper than the Machiavellian goings-on in Whitehall.  Every day, in updating your Facebook status, you are leaking information to the world. So, those who are caught, as Paris Brown was, should not complain.  It was their own fault.  Just be aware.  Don’t put stupid things on the Internet; don’t reveal to the globe things, which, in later life, most probably will be used against you, no matter how young or inexperienced you were at the time.

In my opinion, the only time  when people can legitimately complain about their own lives being compromised is, especially now, the usage of big data in  operations such as Prism, which was unveiled as the biggest whistle-blower scandal in living memory.  Only when Big Brother is about to come upon us, then do I advise you to complain.

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