Social Dangers

The following short essay was originally written on December 27th, 2015 for English 170 taught by Dr. Sally Lozada.

            How we interact with the world has changed with the innovation of the internet.  Social media is the latest change and with it comes a new way of communicating.  This new way of communicating also comes with new risks that are unique to its medium.  Presenting personal information on the internet invites criminals to exploit it.  Employers also view social media to ensure their employees, or future employees, meet their ethics code and practices.  It is the individuals’ responsibility to secure their social media accounts.  They should also give thought to the consequences of what they post.  Networking sites can compromise both personal and professional security. 

            In 1971, the first email was sent (Tiedje, 2011).  The way we communicate evolved over the next few decades.  Websites launched that allowed for group discussions and provided forums for personal expression.  Sites such as Friendster (2002), MySpace (2003), and Facebook (2004) created what is called Social Media.  In 2008, Facebook became the most popular social networking site (Tiedje, 2011).  Now anyone with an internet connection has the ability to communicate to millions of people at once.  I can tell the world the name of my pet cat, feelings toward a political leader, and the name of a crush.  Why do I feel millions of people need to know the name of my cat?

            Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, developed the hierarchy of needs or basic human needs.  The needs are as follows:  physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem, self-actualization and self-transcendence (Rose, 2013).  Obviously, Maslow had no idea what Social Networking was in 1943, but it is eerie how social sites meet almost all of these basic human needs.  One need that is definitely not met is safety.  By posting the name of my cat to the world, I may have unintentionally given out my email password or the answer to a security question used to recover my email password.

            Criminals use a number of tactics to obtain information on their victims.  They send emails and sometimes create elaborate websites that look legitimate.  By far the easiest way for a criminal to gather information is through social media.  “When you post information publicly, it is no longer an invasion of privacy issue because you willingly permitted any Internet user to find that sensitive information” (Holliday, 2012). 

            The FBI warns that information on social sites is not private and can be used for exploitation by criminals (FBI, 2015).  To recover a password from a secure site, all one has to do is enter a username and answer a few security questions.  The password is then sent to an email (or alternate email).  Many of us unknowingly give all the answers to these questions to the criminal through our hundreds of posts. 

            One should keep in mind that it is not just criminals that look at your posts, employers do too.  Carly McKinney, a math teacher, posted a picture and comments about smoking marijuana; she was fired (Broderick, 2013).  77 percent of job recruiters are required to conduct an Internet search on potential employees (Holliday, 2012). 

            Posting on social media is a personal and professional security risk, but that risk can be reduced.  Be conscious of what personal information is revealed and choice passwords that are unrelated to your life (don’t use your cat’s name).  Criminals and employees are looking at social media.

Broderick, Ryan and Grinberg, Emanuella (2013).  10 people who learned social media can get you fired.  Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/06/living/buzzfeed-social-media-fired/

Holliday, Lauren (2012).  Invasion of privacy is a personal problem.  Retrieved from http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-05-16/sports/fl-tl-0517collegeview-20120516_1_google-and-facebook-privacy-policies-google-chrome

Rose, Louis (2013).  Do Social Media Networking Sites Compromise Personal and Professional Security? Retrieved from http://louisrose.com/2013/05/01/do-social-media-networking-sites-compromise-personal-and-professional-security/

Tiedje, Chris (2011).  Social Media Timeline.  Retrieved from http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2011-08-31/sports/fl-social-media-timeline-0901-20110830_1_users-google-aol-instant-messenger

Unknown (2015).  Cyber Tip: Social Media and the Use of Personal Information.  Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/news/news_blog/cyber-tip-social-media-and-the-use-of-personal-information