Social networks: plus, minus, anyway?
Social networks have tightly entered our lives: we are in a hurry to share the latest news with friends through statuses, post new photos or just chat. The most famous of them in Russia are VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and international Facebook, and each of the networks has its own user groups. If VKontakte is more popular among children and youth, but recently it has been actively developing among other age groups, then Odnoklassniki, once leading among an adult audience, are noticeably losing ground. “Facebook” is most often used to communicate with friends from other countries. Pros How can we explain the growing popularity of social networks? First of all, of course, this is unlimited communication. Talking with friends from around the globe without leaving your home limits only the cost of Internet traffic. It is already difficult to imagine how to maintain contacts with many friends without the help of social networks, and well-built relationships with people always help in life and in work. It is impossible to imagine social networks without additional functions, such as groups, news, the ability to add photo, video and audio materials, alerts about friends’ birthdays, numerous applications and many others. Thanks to the growing popularity, social networks have become a real trend. Not only is being their user simply fashionable – networks allow members to always stay abreast of what is happening. Think about how much news we get from them! Someone got married, divorced, gave birth to a child, went to the hospital, went to rest … you have to be “in the subject”. Thanks to social networks, a person feels himself to be part of a social group, not obligated to make any efforts for this. Of course, often this is just an appearance, and a user with several hundred virtual friends can be completely lonely in real life and not see anything other than a computer … But no one knows for sure. Cons However, the attractiveness of social networks hides some dangers that you need to know about. The most important drawback of social networks is the publication of freely accessible personal information about a person. Most networks collect much more data than is actually required for registration. It seems to the user that he decides what to tell about himself and what not … But you won’t leave photo albums blank. And how not to fill interests? In addition, the user cannot track whether someone else has posted a photo with him … So, if you try, through social networks you can find out almost everything about a person. Information about when, with whom and how much he communicates may be more important than the content of these conversations. With the help of programs that recognize a person from photography and allow you to find all the materials related to him on the Global Network, we can learn more about a person than he wants to tell about himself. For example, I’ll say that in the USA, social networks are regularly used by the police to search for information. Absolutely everything that we post on social networks remains there forever. Our comments and marks on photos remain even after deleting an account, and often even this same account cannot be deleted! Search engines also store all information in the cache during indexing, so you can’t be sure that all unwanted materials are deleted. Advertising is a separate factor against social networks. It’s not even that banners and spam are annoying: there are new ways to promote the product. Special people register in groups and communities, gain credibility there and gradually promote their ideas among the members of these groups. It depends on these people whether the new brand will become popular among the masses. According to the same principle, social networks are used for propaganda among youth, for example, extremist ideas. And, of course, attempts to hack profiles on social networks are dangerous. There are several types of hacks, but the most common are the so-called Backstabbing and Speer-Phishing. In the first case, incriminating information about a person, for example, photographs or videos, are laid out for free access, which can lead to serious consequences. For example, in 2007 in the USA, a thirteen-year-old girl committed suicide after such a hack. And with Speer-Phishing, the user is lured to special sites (with addresses similar to the social network address or offering some services) in order to get the passwords of this user with their help. I do not want to condemn or promote social networks, to register in them or not – this is everyone’s personal choice. But it seems to me that we should know about their features and dangers in order to avoid them whenever possible.