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Is Facebook a friend or your worst enemy?
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Facebook is arguably one of the very best inventions of the last 50 years. Or is it one of the worst abominations to be conceived yet? It all depends on your point of view and if you are one of the unfortunate people who have lost a job, been turned down for a job, been cyber-bullied or even got a criminal record because of something posted on FB then you know what I'm taking about.
It's undeniable that social networking sites have brought pleasure to millions of people around the world. It has allowed us all to keep in touch despite vast distances and passage of time. It has brought old friends together when they thought that they would never see each other again. Many people use FB as an invaluable tool to organize events and keep their social life in order. Communicating with people has never been easier, especially now that you can do it so easily on your phone while mobile.
The dark side of Facebook
There is however a dark side to this new found freedom of communication and expression. Social networks make it possible for you to track the daily activities of all your friends and allows you to communicate with them any time that you want to. This very same technology makes it possible for employers to build a background profile of you and use it to decide whether to give you a job or not. Worse still, your Facebook profile can provide evidence to the police and land you with a criminal record.
If you apply for a job in an office and your FB profile shows that you regularly party the night away into the small hours they might take that into consideration. If you apply for a job working with children but your FB page shows you in compromising situations then there is a good chance that you will not get the job.
Some people post pictures of themselves actually committing offenses thinking that their pages are private. This can get you into serious trouble. It can get you arrested and provide the prosecution with all the ammunition that they need to secure a conviction. You then have a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life.
Don't stop using Facebook
I don't want to stop you from using FB. As I said, the social benefits it brings are huge and I would not want to deny you those benefits. What I do want you to do is act responsibly when you are using it.
The first thing that you must do is use the tools that Facebook provide to secure your account. This means setting your profile so that only the people that you want to see your information can see it. When you have done that you have probably done more than most to help keep your life private and secure your reputation.
Online security is never enough
Simply securing your account is not enough however. Remember that you are relying on the owners of FB to be responsible and respect your privacy wishes. Can you trust them to do that? I would not. You must also remember that FB is just one huge software program. It is built by programmers who are human and don't always get things right. I know this because I'm a programmer myself. A web site like Facebook is a complex piece of software which is impossible secure 100% with certainty. If there is even a small hole in the security then the hackers will find it sooner or later.
Even if Facebook was 100% secure one of your 'friends' could take your posts and images and post them elsewhere. You may forget that you made your boss a friend and then post something bad about the company that you work for. A sure way to get yourself fired if you ask me.
FB will also give up your information to the police to comply with court orders. Anything that you write or post online can and will be held against you in court if the police choose to do so when they charge you with an offence. A conviction for smashing a window is easy to achieve if you post a picture of you doing it on FB.
Anything you post on line may be found in a background check
So don't stop using FB but whenever you post stuff there you should assume that whatever you put on the site may someday become public. Before you post ask yourself this question "Would I want anyone else to see this?". If you would rather not show this information to your employer, a prospective employer, your ex partner or the police then don't post it. Keep it to yourself. If you do this every time then you should be able to sleep easier at night knowing that it can't come back to bite you one day.
Don't get yourself a criminal record because you have posted something online to Facebook or anywhere else on line. It's easy enough for someone to do a background check on you online without you helping out by posting all your secrets too.
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