The use of social networks is a phenomenon that has engulfed the world. Social networks have revolutionized the ways people communicate with each other. Facebook is the leading network site. This site has several hundred million members. Social networks enable people to share their experiences with their friends online. However, the use of social networks raises problems of privacy of information that people post on the social network sites. People may use the information wrongly, exposing the individual to various risks. Some of the parties that may use the posts of various people are employers and insurance companies. This may have devastating effects on the individual. However, most social network sites do not adequately educate their members on how other parties may use their posts. Social networks usually have a long list of terms and conditions that people should agree to prior to signing up in the website. However, the wording of terms and conditions is usually vague. Therefore, it is vital for social networks to educate their members on the use of their posts. This will ensure that they only post information that will not negatively affect them. Social media literacy greatly helps to increase people’s awareness of the use of social media.
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The main use of social networks is for personal use. Most people use social networks to keep in touch with their friends. People may visit social network sites to update their status, view their friends’ status or check out pictures from their friends. Social networks help people to keep in touch with their friends who may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Business organizations use social networks to connect with their customers. Social networks enable companies to communicate with their customers directly. Thus, social networks are important public relations’ tools of companies. Social networks help businesses to network with other businesses. Companies also use social networks in marketing of their products. Therefore, social networks are vital to both individuals and business organizations.
Social networks face several problems. Social networks are prone to attacks by hackers. The main reason that makes hackers target social networks is that social networks have a large amount of personal information and users of social networks are more gullible. In addition, security of social network sites is minimal (Ciampa 122). These attacks reveal personal information to unwarranted parties. This may have devastating effects on the individual. In addition, various parties such as employers and insurance companies may screen an individual using the social network sites.
Therefore, it is critical for users of social networks to know the potential uses of their posts and people who may have access to the information they post in social networks. Business organizations, parents and individuals are the main parties that may help to reduce various risks that occur due to use of social networks. It is hard for social networking sites to engage in activities that may reduce the risks that users of the social networks face. The main reason that makes the company use a vague agreement form is that usage of a detailed agreement may make most customers reject the social networking site. Customers want to sign up quickly and start using the site immediately. The only measure these companies can take is increasing security of the software platform that supports operation of the social network. Increased security would help to reduce the possibility of attacks that may lead to leakage of personal information of their members. However, they cannot control what people post in the social network sites. People are at will to post whatever they like.
Social networking mat greatly harm the reputation of a company. Employees of the company may posts damaging comments on the company in social networking sites. Companies can help to reduce risks they face due to social networking by having social networking policies that restrict employees’ usage of social networking sites. Social networking policies ensure that employees do not release confidential information via social networks (Scott and Jacka 92). In addition, social networking policies should ensure that usage of social networking sites does not interfere with employee productivity. Social networking policies should address the unique needs of each organization. Companies should train their employees on proper use of social networks.
Minors engage in social networks extensively. Facebook allows users as young as 13 years old to have accounts. However, teenagers face several problems due to the usage of social networking sites. Cyber bullying is one of the most common problems that children face. Cyber bullying refers to online bullying. It refers to continuous posting of offensive material regarding a certain individual. Parents can help to reduce cyber bullying by helping teenagers to manage their social network accounts (Carpenter & Ferguson 201). This may be through deleting contacts of people who bully their children or reporting extreme cases of bullying to relevant authorities.
However, individuals are ultimately responsible for whatever they post in social network sites. Various social network sites have options that enable an individual to limit the visibility of an individual’s post by other parties. People should ensure that they limit the visibility of their posts only to people with whom they have close contact. In addition, people should avoid befriending strangers online. This is because these strangers may have ulterior motives, which may put an individual at risk. In addition, people should limit the amount of personal information that they post in the social networks. People should never give out their social security numbers. These measures would help to reduce the risks that users of social networks face.