Robin Olsen holds a B.Sc In Computer Systems and has over 20 years of IT Experience.
Sometimes a good idea can turn into something very bad. Social networking is a good example of this. It was created so that people could share thoughts and ideas with like-minded people and keep in touch with distant family. Then it evolved into the monster it is today. It is heavily involved in every aspect of your life now, even if you choose not to use it.
How many times do potential employers base their hiring decisions on what they see on social media rather than on the resume? How many stories are there of people losing their jobs, health insurance coverage and even their relationships because of something on social media that seemed totally innocent at the time? It's obscene how much personal privacy we have given up in the 21st century, and I think most of us do not even realize it has happened.
On Social Media, Everyone Is Listening
When we post on the Internet, we think we are safe and secure in our own living rooms or offices. Perhaps we are sitting in our underwear or in a proper business suit; it really doesn't matter. Why? It's because we are actually not in a safe and private place; we are actually in a very crowded room surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of people on all sides, anyone of whom may, or may not, be listening in on your conversation.
Even those who are not on your circle lists (ie: Friends lists in Facebook, followers on Twitter, etc.) can still listen in to your conversations via wall posts and general tweets, responses to other tweets, etc. Think of it this way: If you are in a restaurant with your spouse having a conversation over dinner, it is reasonable to assume that those at tables around you, even though they're not specifically involved in your conversation, can still hear what you are saying, correct? Same thing with social media, except it is not so much your volume as it is the 'where' and 'what' you are posting that matters more.
The Illusion of Security
The internet is definitely not secure, no more secure than walking down a street in the middle of the day in a very large city. In such a scenario you are routinely filmed without your knowledge by CCTV, cell phone cameras, regular everyday digital cameras and even the occasional TV camera. The internet is the same way only instead of video, your every keystroke is recorded, every photo you upload is archived. Did you know you cannot 'delete' a photo from Facebook? Oh sure, you can remove it from your profile and the button is labelled 'delete', but Facebook keeps a copy, they always have, it is in your Facebook end-user agreement. Have you read it? Have you read any of the end-user agreements on these social media websites? You should. Did you know you cannot delete your Facebook account? You can deactivate it but it will always be there and hackers love inactive accounts. The password never changes.
On many occasions law enforcement has been able to track people and their activities based purely on internet activities alone. Most of the time this is for a good reason, to be sure, but have you ever asked yourself how they got access to this or that private chat message when they are obviously not a part of the social media circle in question?
Don't forget that every website on the internet has a 'sysadmin' and he can see and watch everything on their network. So, be sure of it, everything you put up on the internet STAYS on the internet for at least a VERY long time and it can be viewed by a wide variety of people for many different reasons. Every time you visit a website your IP address is recorded in a log file somewhere and associated with that website.
The Illusion of Privacy
I once read a story of a woman who suffered from chronic depression. She was given time off from work to deal with the issue and was paid by the medical insurance company while she was off from work. On the advice of a doctor, recommended to her by the medical insurance company, she took a vacation to Mexico to help relieve the stress and depression. She posted pictures of her vacation on Facebook when she got back and the insurance company seen them, they said she was lying and could not possibly be depressed and going on vacation at the same time and cut off her benefits. This woman probably thought she was only posting to her own circle and chances are good the insurance company is not a part of that circle yet they still got the photos. How did that happen? No privacy on the internet.
There are other stories out there as well, teachers who have been disciplined for what they have said on Facebook in private chats or in rooms. Police officers,various other public officials, etc. I won't bore you with them, just remember there is no privacy on the net and there are countless examples that do not relate specifically to government spying or evil agendas. Don't do, post or say anything on the internet you would not do in public.
The Illusion of Safety
The internet is definitely not safe. Especially for your kids. The best piece of advice I can give in this area is to learn how to use the built in firewalls on your routers to block out specific websites from your child or even for your own benefit. Do not just rely on the built-in Parental Controls that comes with software firewalls to work. Most of these do not screen out social media the way it should. In my opinion no one under the age of 18 should even be on social media. It serves no purpose to kids other than to distract them, keep them inside and get them into trouble.
Consider the recent bullying cases involving Facebook. In the old days, before social media, a bullied child would at least normally be safe at home from the bullies but now they get no respite at all, bullying in schools pours over to bullying at home in the form of Facebook threats, insulting tweets and constant insulting and threatening text messages. Don't even get your kid a cell phone, I grew up without one, they are not required. They are distractions at best and tools of aggression and hostility at worst. Constant and unrelenting bullying has lead to suicide among our young people.
And get into reviewing your kids interactions with social media. Save and review internet history listings in your browsers. Learn how to review the log files that are generated by your routers and operating systems. Everything you need to know is probably there and don't be afraid to block websites.
Keep yourself safe too. Watch who you interact with. Too many bad stories out there begin with the words 'They met on the internet'.
If you have multiple machines at your disposal, one at work and one at home then do things like banking and social media interactions from your own home computer. Doing this from work, unless specified in your job description – this should be allowed very cautiously I think, only introduces a whole new level of monitoring into the equation. All corporations monitor their own networks, I know I have been doing the monitoring for years now. Also remember that corporate email accounts and corporate computers are not your own property, they belong to the corporation as do all information on those computers and in those accounts. They can seize it or review it at any given time without giving warning to the employee first. Most of the time you will not even be aware that you are being reviewed. Social Networking does not belong in the workplace.
Guidelines for Social Media Usage
So let's review then:
- Never do, post or say anything on the Internet that you would not want repeated over and over again and which you would not do in public.
- Everything that goes on the Internet stays on the Internet—probably forever, as far as you're concerned.
- Social media should be restricted to the over-18 crowd. This should not be some 'law' or anything, rather a conscious decision by us, as parents. You would protect your child from a pedophile who lived down the street, right? Well, they live and hunt on the Internet, too.
- Don't get your kids a cell phone. If you really have to, then get them a BASIC cell phone, not a sophisticated multi-functional one, so that they cannot go on the Internet outside of the house. All cell phones can be tracked by GPS.
- Keep yourself safe. Protect your actual location and arrange to meet anyone for the first time in a very public and well-populated place.
- Never do your social networking from a workplace computer. Never do ANY personal computing from a workplace computer. That stuff isn't yours and is heavily monitored.
Social media was not created for evil purposes but, like anything, it can be misused by a wide variety of lowlifes and various other forms of riff-raff. Is the government monitoring you on the Internet? In a general sense, yes, they are. But there are those out there watching you a lot more closely than that. Be aware!
© 2013 Robin Olsen
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on May 25, 2020:
Georgiana Collins - thanks for your post. Parental controls are a good tool as long as those that use them remember that the tool does not replace the parent but is meant to enhance their ability to monitor and protect their young ones.
"The Internet provides us with many possibilities" actually, it provides you with EVERY possibility... think of it from this perspective and you will know how to 'filter' what you want from all the rest.
Protect your passwords from your kids, most of us run into issues when we allow our kids to use the computer with the same login accounts as the adults in the house use, this makes parental controls frustrating for those adults and it usually gets turned off. Create a 'kid friendly' account, no password, limited system access and activated parental controls.
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on July 17, 2019:
Grace: if you wish to use this article onr any portion then I would require only proper credit for it. Others who have took this content did not cite me as the author and claimed they wrote it... those guys got a DCMA complaint filed... but if you include my name in the by line as the author then you can use it
Grace on July 17, 2019:
Please how do i cite this article??
itzel on April 25, 2019:
social media is not at all safe
awesome girl28481 on April 17, 2019:
can u shut up???? like socail media is super safe!!!!!!!!!!!!
Busta on March 06, 2019:
I would also add, never do social networking and online banking in public places such as cyber coffee and other free wifi network in public places.
Rianna on January 19, 2019:
I HATE social media bc it's just a WASTE OF TIME!!!!
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on November 30, 2018:
Glad to hear that.
kelly on November 28, 2018:
my debate team is doing why or why not social networking sites are harmful so this is really useful
Stephe on October 14, 2018:
I was doing this for a class assignment...has been really helpful
Robin Olsen #2 on September 17, 2018:
thank you Robin Olsen #1 for providing me with such information.
lamara on September 04, 2018:
Anonymous on May 26, 2018:
thanks for the info
Anonymous on May 17, 2018:
To be completely fair, I could go either way regarding this issue. Yes, there are many dangers on the internet that I am fully aware of. However, when talking about children, they are people too. They should be allowed some privacy on the internet. As long as they are aware of the dangers, I feel they should have some form of freedom. Anyways, this was a very helpful article and acknowledge your take on this situation.
anonymous on February 28, 2018:
we should not shut down anything because at the end of the day its the choice of the people on what they post and they shouldnt be blaming the hackers who take the photos and do stuff with them,you should blame the people who take the dum pictures and post them.
Anonymous on February 17, 2018:
Yeah but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give your child a phone.
Anonymous on January 11, 2018:
Wow... Its true... I will never use social media. Ever.
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on November 24, 2017:
your a good example of why the youth need to be monitored on the internet - let me correct you 1) Nothing you delete is removed from any servers - they simply remove YOUR ability to see it.... it is still there and still accessible to anyone with the correct access rights or the ability to hack. 2) people don't 'repeat' endlessly and no one actually said they would - it was stated they 'could' and anyone who has a beef with you will spread any post they can use to make you look bad -this could be a ex-friend, a teacher who does not like you, your ex-boyfriend /ex-girlfriend (this is a common one actually) as a child you are probably not even thinking about how that can affect you at this point in your life but something you post today can be brought back in a couple of years when you are looking for a job and be used to deny you that job - or get you fired after you get the job... I have seen teachers fired for their facebook comments that were only between friends in private messages.... your not actually old enough to understand the world yet, all it's little nuances, etc - hopefully you have parents monitoring you ....
Anas Assoufi on November 24, 2017:
-Anas, 14 years of age, 14 years of experience and 9 years of experience with the web.
Billy on November 20, 2017:
Oh yes i like it
Dianna Mendez on August 17, 2017:
I agree with restricting the net to adults. Far too many issues result from children unable to cope with the harsh reality of negative social responses. You are right on with this.
Mary on February 21, 2017:
Great ideas. very informative.
Marlene Bertrand from USA on February 01, 2017:
This is excellent information. I agree with you. Nothing is private on the internet. I know someone who lost insurance coverage because of something a "friend" posted about someone else. Your tips are spot on. I especially heed #1 and #2 in your recap of internet security.
slayerof war on October 19, 2016:
The article was useful, great facts and your evidence backs it. if only parents were as strict and caring as they should be by hiding social media from their children.
someone out there on June 21, 2016:
good one. used to be my essay title
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on February 18, 2016:
you are welcome and thank you for sharing this
debbie on February 04, 2016:
As a victim of stalking, bullying, relentless harassment, identity and copyright theft (photos too) , hacking, via social media that included Facebook, readers please take this hubpage author's sound advice. Especially for your children as well.
Thank you for a fine article.
Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 20, 2015:
A good reminder about using caution when we post personal stuff. Thanks for the information.
Viravong Norodom on July 06, 2015:
someone hacking to my computer 15 time and I lost a lot of my document since i play facebook and Cambodian people's told me the dictator from my country want to throw a lot of Cambodia who play on facebook and criticise the dictator prime minister on facebook and some did go to jail and right now Facebook is control by Cambodia country and before we have peace in facebook and some Cambodian inside working for prime minister try to threat my life that i told to much that Cambodia land was lost by Hanoi country and Hanoi country did push the border a lot into Cambodia
China Abarquez on April 19, 2015:
I never expected that when i upload photos in my social media accounts I lose ownership on these photos. How come? I'm not really aware of it maybe because I am only active on Facebook and my account is private. And also I don't add people whom I don't personally know plus my photos is restricted to my friends only. It's a bit scary.
Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on April 16, 2015:
It sounds really scary. We should be very careful of what we do in social networking. Thanks for the infos.
Alliacia agba on April 09, 2015:
I think it's a bad thing.
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on January 27, 2015:
Actually we do know exactly how electricity works and how to generate and how to use it safely.
This article was never meant to 'scare' anybody. Simple awareness is all I am generating, and based on news stories, this is needed. At no point do I suggest it should not be used at all except where children are involved.
I stick to my guns on that one. Children should ALWAYS be heavily monitored and have all their online contacts screened by the parents. they should never have a single contact that is 'unknown' to the parent.
TTGReviews on January 26, 2015:
I feel like this is trying to scare people away from using social media sites because of the few dangers. For instance, we don't know why electricity works, it just does, but people still use it almost all day long. Just because you can drown in water doesn't mean we shouldn't drink it. Everything we do has some sort of risk or danger involved.
Although, I do agree that we need to be careful about what we do and say on the internet.
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on December 03, 2014:
Thanks for the comment. Hopefully not too scary - the goal was just to get people to think while on the internet the same way they would think when walking down the street in public.
There are certain things we wouldn't do and certain things we wouldn't say in public but the internet seems to 'trick' people into the illusion that somehow what they are doing is private and no one else will hear it even by accident.
Hopefully I am succeeding in changing some simple thought patterns when it comes to internet usage.
HK from London on December 02, 2014:
Very helpful and informative. A little scary too :)
Dragos from Romania on October 28, 2014:
You can never be too careful nowadays. Great hub!
Kristina Pitts from Greenville, SC, USA on October 08, 2014:
Interesting and very good article but you can delete Facebook. Here's how:
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on February 13, 2014:
what is a bad website?
hailey hallalla on February 13, 2014:
this is a bad website.
cliford on December 25, 2013:
Very helpful as a new user i find
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on November 29, 2013:
This is just a warning to inform you that privacy laws vary from place to place.
Remember though, laws don't mean anything when your country has organizations that are allowed to simply ignore them or to 'work around them' - laws only work when they are enforced unilaterally.
So even though they say they respect and obey the laws, there may still be organizations which can either 'hack' the info or simply order the site to surrender it. If the organization giving the order is in the same country as the company that hosts the website then they would have to comply with the order. Foreign sites ... not so much.
So remember the golden rule always - Never do say or post anything on the internet you would not want repeated over and over again. Most of the security policies this site advertises are standard ones throughout social media but these companies that run these sites do not always have the last word in the matter.
funny123 on November 27, 2013:
Instagram, its Affiliates, or Service Providers may transfer information that we collect about you, including personal information across borders and from your country or jurisdiction to other countries or jurisdictions around the world. If you are located in the European Union or other regions with laws governing data collection and use that may differ from U.S. law, please note that we may transfer information, including personal information, to a country and jurisdiction that does not have the same data protection laws as your jurisdiction.
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on November 26, 2013:
Had a look at this and, on the surface, it looks OK. they say they never give out info but you need to match that up with laws. they could be FORCED to give out info regardless on if they want to or not.
All websites have sysops so there is always a couple of people who could see your stuff but sysops are usually trustworthy. I would go ahead and use it if you want but just remember the golden rule. Never do, say or post anything on the internet you would not want repeated over and over.
Try to find some user feedback on the site before you join. Look for feedback on security (a big one, it is irrelevant to 'not sell data' if their system can be easily hacked) and privacy.
just type 'glom feedback' into google and see what comes up.
funny123 on November 26, 2013:
Robin Olsen (author) from Rural Canada on September 19, 2013:
here is an example of what I am talking about when it comes to privacy and your photos on facebook
check it out yourselves