Online Social Networking

Online Social Networking

It seems virtually impossible to imagine a time before social networking was invented. Now, it is a part of day-to-day life for most people. We’re constantly tweeting, re-tweeting, posting, sharing and connecting with each other online and that is the purpose of social networks. Social networking is the use of the Internet and specific websites and applications on it to interact with others for business or social contacts. Some of the major players in the game of social networking are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ – all of which aim to unite people with mutual interests on their sites. They are a phenomenon amongst people of all ages and their appeal seems limitless.

You can find social networks on most people’s personal technologies like their laptops, mobiles and tablets and they are a pretty intimate thing. Looking at one of the three types of social network services, socialising with existing friends, you can see how personal social networking can get. On Facebook, for example, friends share images of their children, their weddings, birthdays and other day-to-day activities in their lives. Immediately, this poses security issues that can be fixed by instilling common sense rules into users. One easy way to stop strangers and potential criminals from building up an accurate profile of you based on what you post online is to change your privacy settings to private and only become friends with people you actually know.

The two other types of social networks are networking for non-social interpersonal communication and social navigation. The former applies to sites like LinkedIn – an online career and employment website designed to help professionals connect with each other. The latter applies to sites like Goodreads – an online site people look to when finding out information on books including ratings and reviews. Still, the concept of a mutual interest remains in these two types of social networking systems as people are connecting because they have the same interests. For individuals and for businesses, social networks can be a great thing due to this basic principle. It is easy to sugar-coat social networking as this perfect, uniting force for good in the world. Sometimes, it is not all it seems. Identity fraud is a large problem on all types of social networks and users should be wary of anything that seems untoward. People are often caught off guard, though, and personal information may end up being exchanged with a stranger who doesn’t have the best intentions.

Social network collaboration is another form of social networking. Usually, as we’ve seen, social networking is all about the individual and generally for personal or professional purposes. However, social network collaboration is not focussed on the individual, but a group. This means that a network is working socially to achieve a common goal, rather than unite people with similar interests. For example, Quora is a social networking service that people consult to find an answer to a question and it is a hub of information from which many people benefit. It is an indirect form of social networking and many sources are put together on one feed to contribute to the common goal.

Made possible by the Internet, social networking is currently a phenomenon that many of us will fall guilty to using far too often. It works so well to give us connections with people we already know, share interests with and even to benefit our career prospects. Advances in technology will only further the potential for social networking – whether it is for businesses or an individual; collaborative or singular. This form of interaction isn’t immune from the dangers we hear about online but when used within good reason and sensibly, social networking can definitely be something great.

Here are some key things to remember when it comes to staying safe but open online:
  • Do not give out personal information like your date of birth, address or phone number. These can be used by identity fraudsters to pose as you.
  • If you’re account is not in private mode, only share what’s necessary to share about you.
  • If you sense something unusual about an account, don’t respond to any of its messages or click on any links it may send to you directly or post in their feed. Keep your account safe from them.
Read more about online social networks in this section.

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