AUTHOR: Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Many people are unaware of Facebook risks when they create a profile on this social networking site. Facebook allows people from all around the world to connect with old friends, and make new ones, using a community interface. However, despite all of the benefits of this social networking site, there are bound to be some risks.
Learning About Facebook Risks
Learning about Facebook risks will help you to safeguard yourself and your computer. You don't need to avoid this social networking site, you just need to know what to do and what not to do to stay safe.
Your Profile: Careful of What You Write
Recently, employers and college admissions staff have looked up applicants on Facebook in order to get a better picture of the person they may be interested in hiring or admitting. Creating an unflattering profile will surely have some impact on your future, if these influential people see it.
If you want to portray a side of you that is not flattering to employers or college admissions staff, make your profile private so that only people you choose will be able to see it. Alternatively, you can continue to make your profile public and just recreate it so that it highlights how great of a person you are.
Keep Private Information Private
Some people trust others and websites too much, and forget that millions of people can look at the private information they post; this includes criminals looking for their next victim. Social networking sites are the new browsing grounds for identity thieves, because they have found that some people list so much information about themselves that they can actually become that person. Someone who steals your identity can do devastating things, such as ruin your credit and even commit crimes under your name. These are all things which could prevent you from getting a job in the future. In addition to criminals, stalkers are also searching social networking sites, like Facebook, for more information on their potential or current victims. A stalker may find something appealing about you and may follow what you write on your page, or even try to find you in person at your home or place of business.
Strangers are Still Strangers
When you meet someone for the first time offline, you may have a difficult time knowing if the person really is who he or she claims to be. The online world is no different. The online world is ideal for people who enjoy over exaggerating their life, or making up a completely different one from their own.If you are interested in using Facebook for online dating, be cautious of whom you meet and what people tell you. This Facebook risk can get you tangled up in an emotional web, because you may think someone is perfect for you, but he or she may turn out not to be what you thought.
Beware of Teenage Predators
Teen predators have taken over teen chat rooms and social networking sites like Facebook. These adults will search sites for unsuspecting teenagers, and pose as teenagers themselves. They will get to know the teen, and then eventually try to meet him or her offline, usually at his or her home when parents aren't there. This is a frightening thing for parents to hear, but parents can cut down on the risk. Monitor your children and teenager's use of the Internet. If he or she has a Facebook account, make it clear that you want to see the profile as often as you like. You can also block certain sites so your teenager cannot access them.
Downloading Computer Viruses from Facebook
Social networks encourage the sharing of files, including videos and downloadable files. Since these files are usually coming from unknown individuals, some of them contain viruses that either corrupt your computer, or attempt to collect personal information that can be used against you. The first step in prevention is to only download files from people you trust. It's also important to keep your antivirus software up to date and turned on when you do anything online.
Increases Internet Addiction
Social networking sites are fun and addictive. Meeting new people, catching up with old friends, and visiting interesting profiles can take up hours each day. You may start to find that your work performance decreases or you've lost your job for being on it at work. Alternatively, if you go to school you may spend more time on Facebook than studying or going to class, which contributes to lower grades. When Facebook begins to interfere with your life, you may be developing an Internet addiction. Keep yourself in check when you use the Internet for any reason. Take regular breaks, and if you do start choosing to be online rather than doing work, you can either start using it as a reward after you finish a task or have someone block you from the site until you are able to control your use of it.
Final Words on Facebook Risks
Facebook risks are not a reason for you to stop using the social networking site, because it can be beneficial to you. You can use it as a portfolio for work or school, and use it recreationally. You just need to be careful how you use it and how much information you post and take from it. Just like the offline world, don't trust everyone and look out for suspicious people. If you follow these suggestions, you can have fun on Facebook without worry!