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Social Networking Safety: Overview and Risks

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 2/13/2010

Social networks are everywhere and though they can be great tools for home and business users, there are some risks and things that need to be considered around their use, especially for the home user. In the beginning of this series, we address what social networks are, and the risks of using them.

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    What are Social Networks?

    Social networks are websites that are designed to connect different people who share some form of common ground be it interest, profession, financial status, dislikes, or kinship. Social networks have become increasingly popular over the last few years as the internet evolves into an increasingly more interactive network of people and computers. Several hundreds, maybe thousands, of social networks exist, each with a different niche target audience similar to the way blogs operate.

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    Popular Social Networking Websites

    There are many social networks on the internet and this list represents the most well known networks.

    MySpace: This social network has expanded from individuals who want to connect to people from their past to specific profile types for music artists, comedians, and film makers. Advertisements, classified ads, and other types of media help to connect people to give them additional methods for making connections and finding information.

    Facebook: This social network was originally targeted at college students; specifically only users with a school email address could sign up for an account. Soon after this policy proved to be unable to compete with the growth of MySpace, membership was opened up to everyone. Many of the same features are shared between the two networks, but each network has a unique approach towards reeling in their audience.

    Friendster: A social network similar to MySpace and Facebook.

    MyYearbook: Another early MySpace and Facebook competitor.

    Yuwie: A social network designed to mimic MySpace and offers its users money based on their participation. Pay varies in relation to the advertising revenue that the site obtains.

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    The Risks of Social Networks

    Identity Theft

    Social networking sites are becoming widely targeted for phising scams designed to steal information from users for the purpose of obtaining financial information and creating havoc. Using social networking and protecting yourself from identity theft is addressed in part two of this series.

    Malware

    In addition to identity theft scams, social networking is often targeted to spread malware designed to steal information and cause damage to files and computer hardware. Protecting yourself from malware while using social networking sites is addressed in part three of this series.

    Child Protection

    Though not addressed in this series, there are several risks to children and teens who use social networking. Strides have been made towards the protection of children and who may use social networking sites. Many federal and state laws are in place that work to protect innocent children from online predators.

Social Networking Safety

Social networking is a powerful communication tool and great for connecting with people; however, there are some risks associated with its use. This series will detail the risks, protecting against identity theft, and protecting against malware.
  1. Social Networking Safety: Overview and Risks
  2. Social Networking and Identity Theft: Staying Safe Online
  3. Social Networking Safety: Protecting Against Malware