Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Facebook: Beware Strangers !!

Beware the stranger

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ALTHOUGH many users may not realise it, Facebooking is an exercise in throwing all caution to the wind. True, Facebook does have a privacy policy which is reported to be longer than the United States' Constitution, and many users do try to exercise some sort of filtering or control on who gets to see what information is in their account, but still there are so many complaints of breaches of privacy. And even though these complaints have been dealt with unremorsefully, most users approach this social networking site like lemmings to a cliff. Perhaps it is that we take too many things for granted. After all, if a complete stranger -- who owes you nothing -- opened the door of his house to you and said you could stay for as long as you liked and for free, common sense would say that there must be a catch. Honour and good manners might dictate that that person should not riffle through your drawers and inspect your underwear, read your diary, or allow visitors to look into your room; but who says that that person who gives you things for free is a person of honour or good manners?

Many adults, once grown up, forget the bedtime stories read to them as children. If they remembered them, they would remember that most of the stories -- like Little Red Riding Hood, or Sleeping Beauty, or Snow White, for instance -- always warned of the stranger. And the stranger almost always brought danger. Not all strangers are bad, but the lesson is that, when faced with something that is unknown, one should always be cautious. This is what many users of social networking sites fail to consider when using these sites: You don't know the person who runs that service; yet you expect him to be as honourable as your best friend.

Any other social networking should be an exercise in common sense and caution. Although everyone has a right to privacy and that right should be protected by the law, one should also protect oneself against lawbreakers. We should not reveal over the Internet anything that we would not be glad to reveal in person. The reality is that -- Facebook privacy issues aside -- data mining occurs all the time. Tracking cookies and browsing histories allow individuals and companies to profile a person based on that person's Internet usage. And even if one's privacy is not invaded by a commercial enterprise or a nosey hacker, in countries where privacy and fundamental liberties are not respected, governments can and have been known to intrude. So, in reality, Facebook is just a totem for all the other dangers out there. The solution: constant vigilance.

Read more: Beware the stranger http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles//2dddp/Article/#ixzz11uTlJKdU

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