Monday, July 28, 2008

Respect my Privacy!

Lately I have seen a lot of attention focusing on the growth in popularity of social networking sites. Internet interaction has become an integral part of society, how we communicate with our friends and make new acquaintances. We all know the risks we face with our online activity but people are still revealing a lot more than they should on sites. Peer pressure in revealing details to friends that could leave you vulnerable, from birthdays, email addresses to mobile phone numbers and work information. Loss of privacy, identity theft, stalking and in extreme instances grooming and child abuse.

We are all guilty of revealing too much but then the sites should also do more to protect us. Instead what you will find is that they will use you for leverage, that the structure will expose you to other elements in the form of applications for example!

What really defines a friend? Do we even know our close friends as it seems so easy to portray an appearance of who we are online but are we that person? Many of the sites out there seem to be heavily focused on self gratification. I get regular emails from Facebook comparing me to my friends, I'll say one thing; whoever is voting against me being the friend with the best hair you are ruining my life! If I find out I will be able to track you down due to no doubt you providing too much information on your profile!

Everywhere has subscribers, followers, friends to enhance our ego, Plurk takes this a step further and has Karma. The lack of interaction from me on Plurk has left me with Bad Karma! I frequent a few sites admittedly, I enjoy the interaction and what the sites offer I find benefits my web usage. introduces me to new music all the time and to an extent has limited the amount that I download. FriendFeed, Facebook and Twitter are all sites I use to speak with my friends. Google Reader manages all the websites and blogs that I subscribe to and follow. On each site I have a profile, a presence that details who I am and what is my purpose! Are we all becoming obsessed with creating how we want to be perceived online?

The next killer app is already in the pipeline, just waiting for an introduction and aligning itself to fill a gap in the market. The flip side is those people looking to exploit our curiosity; phishing sites, viruses and spyware infecting computers, spam etc. After completing a scan of my parents PC and reviewing the results which contained 1000+ infections including a Trojan - my siblings are clearly not aware of the threats they face online. Who does? I regularly make sure that I change my passwords, update security and scan my system, make sure that you also take care or you could regret it!

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