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Social Networking
on Myspace and Friendster

For people not familiar with the thriving Internet social networking communities of  MySpace or Friendster, more and more teens and college age adults are using the world of the internet to communicate in ways we had no inkling of a few years ago.

Social networking is booming as young adults find one another online to chat, post comments, post photos, and share info about the latest happenings in their world to their Myspace pages and Friendster networking sites.

The website MySpace has a massive user base of more than 60 million members or visitors.
 
These visitors share pictures of themselves and all kinds of personal and even private information with complete strangers. It's free, easy to join, and easy to message among its members. Kids chat about everything from school, to sports, to world events. It all seems like innocent fun, and it can be. Unfortunately, many parents and teens are unaware that there are serious hidden dangers.

Here's the way it works.  Myspace is basically a free bulletin board for anyone (not just teens) to create a web site that is all about social networking and communicating with friends and creating new friends, too.

Users create a free account; enter information about themselves (personal profiles), in as much or little detail as they want. They then share their site with their friends. Their friends can then post comments on the Myspace. It becomes a great big bulletin board of social interaction. The kids are glued to these things and seem to know how to find one another and chase down the latest hot info in a heartbeat.

So what does this mean to communication in the Internet age for teens and young adults? It puts a fancier face on the outpouring of information exchange between teens.

It used to be that only the geeky teens had web pages about themselves. They were the only ones who knew how to build them. Now, with these easy to use tools at their disposal, every teen or young adult can have a site. That means connections and
networking spreads very fast.


The sharing aspect of these sites is not only their good side but also their bad side as well. Many schools and parents have become alarmed at the content of some of the Myspace sites that students have built. In typical teen fashion some kids say on their site what probably should not be said in public.

They post as though it were a diary and then it gets spread around. This means that hate and meanness can spread within the community quickly. Some schools have cracked down and told students they would be expelled if they do not clean up their sites. Parents, just finding out about the technology and checking it out for the first time become alarmed at the things that are said on these postings.

There is a very serious downside to the rapidly increasing population of these Social Networking Communities. The "MySpace" web community is also being invaded by Scammers and criminals.

The predators, (that's what they are), act just like the rest of the web community visitors, but they load their email communications with malicious software like trojan horses and even keyloggers.

They take advantage of users' trust in the networks' recognized names to create bogus links that appear to be legitimate. These links can lead to dangerous Web sites that capture sensitive information.

Of course that aspect comes back to the old thing of parents needing to be in tune with their kids and what is going on in their world. You cannot give a kid a computer and internet access and then walk away and not pay any attention.

Events that have raised alarm in this world of social networking include kids who post news of a party in their area, to their site. Instead of getting to "just" their friends it ends up spreading to the whole area. Homes have been overrun by crowds of kids trying to attend parties. One such event even ended with a fatal stabbing when the crowd got to big and unruly.

Certainly, this type of tragedy can happen with or without such social networking sites in teen’s lives. However, social networking sites are not going to fade away. Myspace has over 60 million subscribers and was recently bought by a major corporation. They intend to make a lot of money from these sites for years to come.

It is a very lucrative target market for advertising revenue, and for thieves, hackers, cyber criminals and predators.

If teens and young adult visitors to these web communities practice the same restraints and cautions as when they communicate by Instant Messaging or read their email, there's a good chance they won't become victims of the phishers, spammers and other physically dangerous predators.
    
                                   
                                                                               ... Richard Rossbauer

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Richard started his "Firewalls and Virus Protection" website and "Security Alert News Reporter" to help everyday Internet users navigate safely through the Cyber Space that has become a 'Cyber Jungle', loaded with ambushes and booby traps. He promotes his "Computer Security Awareness Campaign" thru his website at http://www.firewalls-and-virus-protection.com
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Richard
www.RichardPresents.com

 

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