Facebook is the current craze with just about everyone from little kiddies to grandmothers across the world. No one can dispute it’s popularity and ease of keeping all your friends informed by just one simple post, as opposed to a number of individual or cc’d e-mails. Posting photos and videos of your vacation, etc. are very easy. It would seem that Facebook is indeed a miraculous, “can’t live without” web application.
But, there is a dark side of Facebook that many people are unaware of. Many people who are new to Facebook and/or are not too web savvy can easily fall into a false illusion of security. After all, you’re just posting some innocent moments to share with your friends, right? At least that is what many people believe. What you might not know is that just about anyone can see a small portion or all of your Facebook posts even if they are not part of your “friends” list. Simply do a search on a name or e-mail address and you can easily find out just about anything about anyone you wish. Not sure of a name or e-mail address? Simply browse through someone you have added as a friend and view their friends list. Click on anyone of them and instantly get a preview of their world and private information. Some people have wisely gone into their account settings and blocked off most of their “wall” and other info, but there is still some information visible. On Facebook, you may run but you cannot hide…unless you shut down your Facebook account.
There have been a number of articles lately about online stalking and other crimes directly attributable to Facebook and other social networking sites like MySpace, etc. Some pretty scary stuff is going on out there in both the virtual world of the web and the REAL world. It would seem inconceivable that people would share personal and/or intimate details of their lives with total strangers but that is precisely what many are doing on their Facebook accounts. Perhaps the most foolhardy people are the ones who invite and accept anyone, trying to build a huge network of “friends” based solely on quantity not quality. I would be terrified to accept a friend invitation from someone unknown only to find out later that the person is a child predator or a serial murderer. Yet, some people don’t have a clue about who they are accepting (or inviting) into their circle of friends. That is a recipe for disaster.
Like anything else Facebook is what you make of it. If used responsibly and safely, it can be a great tool for business or keeping in touch with friends. Just be aware that whatever you are posting out there is just like standing on a podium and announcing it all to the whole world. Be careful and be safe!