A social networking site can be defined as an online service that is based around the building and reflecting of social relations among individuals with common interests or social ties. Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are all different, yet the one main feature they have is that they enable users to create a profile within the website to represent themselves and allows users to interact through email, instant messaging and other communication channels within the site. The popularity and growth of social networking sites over the past years has been massive, as many people from all over the world join the social phenomenon for varied reasons. Today, there are more than 500 million active users on Facebook. As the technology advances, social networking sites have an even bigger impact on society and human relationships, both positive and negative.
This paper argues that social networking sites have a negative influence on people of all ages, increase cyber bullying, personal insecurities and weaken strong personal ties as well as increase identity theft and other privacy issues and a decrease in our face to face social skills. This demonstrates that social networks do in fact cause more harm than good. Identity theft is a huge problem in today’s society and has come about as a result of the rapid expansion and availability of internet technology and the increase in personal data found on social networking sites. MySpace, Facebook and Twitter cause identity theft in two mains ways. The first being is that they encourage you to ‘edit your profile’ which includes adding your interests, full name, where you live, your email address and even personal details like your phone number an relationship status. The more information you have on your profile about you, the easier it is for identity thieves to claim they are you.
The second main issue is the privacy settings on these social networking sites also help relieve personal fraud. Although there are built in features that allow users to change their privacy settings and not allow other users to view such personal details, these settings are never default, so that users are usually unaware how much information they are sharing not only with their friends, but with the rest of the world. This is why it is important for users of social networks to be aware of the stuff they are making available online and of the ways that is can potentially be used. Furthermore another privacy issue that social networking sites face is that they encourage users to over share very private information that can easily be used against them. For example Facebook has a new thing where you can ‘check-in’ at wherever it is you may be and notifies users which gives thieves and strangers the advantage of robbing someone’s house while they are out.
There is now a website called “Please rob me” that was set up to raise awareness about over-sharing and highlights these kinds of privacy issues that social networks create. In this respect social networks like these pose serious privacy concerns. Cyber bullying refers to bullying through emails, mobile phone text messages, phone calls, internet chat rooms, instant messaging and most importantly social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook. Although cyber bullying is not physical, it’s emotional and psychological effects are devastating for the victim and can often lead to suicide and depression. Cyber bulling in terms of social networks is a huge issue because more than 50% of American teens use social networking sites. Online bullying is often seen as the easy way out. Social Networking sites are a place where bullies can say things they wouldn’t usually say to someone in person, but are still just as hurtful. Bullies feel more confident online because they can contact their victims at anytime and they have no one there defending them.
There have been many teens on the news in recent years because they have committed suicide due to cyber bullying. It is clear that social networking aids in the prominence of cyber bulling which is just one of the negative impacts that social working sites has on society today. The way we communicate with our peers and with strangers over the internet is changing. Another negative impact that social networks have on our relationships is the fact that while we strengthen the ties we have with people we hardly ever get to see, we are weakening our ties to the people who are close to us which brings about physical social isolation. This idea of constantly being connected is awful in the way that personal interactions between friends are more superficial than they were before Facebook and other social networking sites. Users also let more time pass between face to face encounters because they feel like they are connected because they can see what a friend is doing from their Facebook page.
A college student found that nearly 70% of users report reading posts from someone close to them that seemed upset and even though students would offer support in some way, they wouldn’t make a personal visit. It is clear that the rise of social networks has increased social and emotional isolation and diluted the strength our human relationships. As social networking sites become more popular by the day, the rise of negative social effects within our society also greaten. We have and will keep seeing people being cyber bullied; more cases of identity theft and additional privacy problems. We will also see our strong relationships turn into amore superficial and convenient type of relationship. Social networking sites have had a huge negative impact on our mental and social health and will continue to do so into the future, if we let it. It is also now evident that social networking sites cause all these problems, and without them they wouldn’t exist. Therefore it is true that all these social networking do cause more harm than good.