The popularity of social networking continues to grow, but there are those who are concerned regarding the effect of such sites on our society.
Facebook, Linkedin, MySpace, Twitter, etc. if you’re not a member of one I guarantee you know someone who is. The use of social networking sites quadrupled from 2005 to 2009. These sites allow users to communicate with family, friends, and even strangers to share photos, thoughts, music, and more. But are these websites good for society? Some say they are. Others believe that the dangers of social networking outweigh the benefits.
Supporters of social networking sites argue that these online communities increase communication between family and friends, help to sharpen valuable computer skills, and facilitate contact with people around the world.
Those that oppose social networking sites provide that they expose children to predators, increase computer vulnerability to viruses, lower worker productivity, contribute to short attention spans, and promote narcissism. In addition, the growth of social networking is outpacing the societal laws, rules, and etiquette regarding its use. An example of this that is often used is that of Congressman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) in February 2009 who sent a message regarding his whereabouts on twitter during a trip to Iraq. It is then easy to see how the real-time nature of social media could very well be an issue of national security.
Identity theft is another concern that has increased with the rise of social networking. Phishing in particular increased 240% on these sites between 2008 and 2009. On in four individuals unwittingly reveal personal details on these sites, opening them up to victimization. Even corporations fear the security risks that networking sites can bring.
In an effort to address concerns related to the security of social networking, states are beginning to look at various laws to regulate these sites better. One such law was passed in August 2009 by the state of Illinois banning registered sex offenders from using social networking sites. This law was passed in hopes of protecting children from online predators. Though the majority of predatory behavior occurs via chat rooms and instant messages, this could be a start in identifying avenues to lessen the dangers of social networking.