Posted by Frank - Follow me on Twitter

Do you consider yourself an avid user in the many social networks that are out there?  If you are, which many are, have you ever thought of the possible problems that can occur with being on these social networks?  Granted I always talk positive about joining these communities, but I wanted to play devils advocate and take a different look on things.

If I were to ask you what is the biggest problem with signing up with a social network, what would you say?  Well, after talking with some people who refuse to be a part of these communities, they say their reasons are for security purposes.  They don’t want their whole life broadcasted for the entire world to see.  It’s completely understandable too.  People like their privacy and social networks do take away your privacy.  Ask yourself this, if you participate everyday on different social networking sites, how much of your personal information are you spreading each day?  Quite a bit I would assume.  That’s what my life consists of doing each day.  It’s how I participate, share ideas, and make new contacts.  Then again, social networks and networking is for me.  It’s not for everyone.

Looking at the angle of a non-social network user, I can definitely see privacy being a major issue.  I mean look how many people experience identity theft over the internet.  Why?  Well, your information is there for the taking.  It is very important to watch what kind of information you put in these social networking sites.  As much as I love being members of these communities, I still take note of what I say…do you?  In relation to this privacy issue, those that don’t use social networks don’t like the idea of telling people what they are doing every minute like with Twitter updates.  I think that’s all well and good because there are some things I have seen people say in updates and I think, why would you tell people that.

You also have the problem of running into perverted people on these sites. Since you don’t know most of the people you are interacting with on social networks, you truly don’t know who you are talking to unless they prove the type of person they are through a YouTube video or some form of media. Those that are perverts on the internet just get a rise out of their sick antics and it’s just important to be aware of them.  You should always know what you are getting yourself into when joining a new social network.

Finally, the last major problem I think you can run across when being a member of a social network is spam.  Here’s something the entire world can’t stand.  You get those people in the community who are always sharing the same comments promoting useless products or unrelated comments to the conversation.  Usually these people are bots, but there are those that are just flat out spammers.  It’s important to block them from your “friend list” so that you won’t see what they are saying and there comments can’t appear in your update threads.  Spammers really can make social networks a problem for new users and people new to the social media scene.  It can almost negate them from participating in social networks further if all they receive is spam from other users (or bots in this case.)

These are the three main issues that I think can cause possible problems with social networks.  There may some users that think there are no flaws or issues with the social network experience, however it’s important to take note of these issues.  Do you consider these three things potential problems to social media?  Do you think there are more issues?  If so, let us know in the comments section below.

Further reading:

10 Tips For Interacting With Social Networks And Technology

The Difference Between Business And Online Social Networks

Social Networks: Who’s The Top Dog?

Social Networks – Who Came First?

  • Hannah

     Ever since I joined the social networking community (when I was very young) I already knew what type of information I was putting out there. I knew that every picture and every subject I filled in my profile, allowed more people to learn more about me. However, I learned what all of the privacy controls were and I kept my profile very plain leaving my audience with very little information. I used my social networking account to keep in touch with my old and new friends that I meet offline. Right now as “safe” as Facebook seems, it shows everyone’s first and last names in the system and allows just about anyone to search you. The three main issues that you listed are not potential problems, there already are! People in my community know so much about people just by looking at their Facebook accounts. Another problem that we need to focus on is the children that are joining these social networks. Children are sneaky and learn how to get around the system. According to PureSight, 75% of children are willing to share information about themselves and their families in exchange of for goods and services. And 1 in 5 U.S teenagers use the internet regularly says that they’ve received unwanted sexual solicitation over the Internet. Shouldn’t we think more about how our society will face these privacy issues with social networking sites? 

    • It’s funny, I wrote this post a long time ago and the issues that exist today on the internet are much different than what I wrote about back then. However, you’ve raised some very fair points, Hannah. Personally, I think anyone who decides to be online and participate in the conversation is already sharing more information than they realize. Hence which is why I don’t believe many people “care” about privacy as much as they say they do. If they did, then they wouldn’t be on sites like Facebook to begin with because they have all the data they need on every individual on their network. Secondly, to “hide” their identities many people are use ways to make themselves appear “invisible” on sites like Facebook by using alternative spellings and usages of their name so that only certain people can find them. Although, you’re point about children is fair. Kids seem to be willing to share anything without any barriers. It’s too easy to fake an age to join these sites and originally Facebook was only meant for college students and you needed a .edu email address just to access the site. Now those barriers have been broken and leave anything to chance. That’s the online world we live in. People are sharing a ton of information at a growing rate which leads me to believe that privacy isn’t a real concern for most users. If it was, wouldn’t they cancel their accounts and go offline completely? I doubt it because the internet is where the majority of people spend their time and some people have no filters. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really enjoyed reading what you had to say.

  • Media Agile

    This article is a bit negative but makes some interesting points

    • Thanks for your feedback on the post. Sorry if it was a little too negative. I’d be interested to know…which of the points made resonated with you?

      • Media Agile

        There is certainly too much spam, I don`t find too many pervs though in my own experience but it is true that this can be very off-putting to many. I think one of the bigger problems is repetition and how one can avoid this. I find this also on alot of blogs, and too often it reads the same as too many other blogs. It is a hard balance to achieve though if you are trying to reach out to network, make new contacts and chat with friends as well as market yourself to actually really avoid this, especially as social networking is touted as being the most effective way to achieve this. As for the issue of privacy I think people are getting more used to having less in the main. I would say there is alot wrong with social networking but it is something people want nonetheless so they put up with much of the wrongness. Kind of like life in general now I suppose.

        • For sure, people are getting use to having less privacy online. It personally has never bothered me, but these companies have to make money especially if they’re providing a service for free. I feel the same way you do, there is a lot of rehashing of the same things online, but you do start to wonder if there’s any way to avoid it. Thanks so much for taking the time out to comment and share your thoughts. I definitely look forward to hearing more of what you have to say!