CBS’s hidden dangers of Facebook

When you use the internet, you accept a certain amount of risk. Nothing is completely secure, either online or in the real world, so it goes without saying that you should pay close attention to every link that you click on. Perhaps schools should be teaching basic internet safety classes to keep kids abreast of how they can protect themselves. Then the kids could go home and teach their parents.

But some times we take our cautions a little too far. That’s when we enter the world of baseless paranoia.

Recently CBS a report entitled Five Hidden Dangers of Facebook. The five hidden dangers, according to CBS, are

  • Facebook ads can infect computers with malware
  • Your friends make you vulnerable
  • Facebook shares your personal information with third parties
  • Scammers create fake profiles to lure in unsuspecting victims
  • New site designs revert personal information protection options to original, less strict options

Some of these dangers are absolutely true. Facebook is a little sketchy about sharing information with third parties. I don’t get all crazy about it because I think it’s naive to believe that we have privacy in the modern world. Do I like having Facebook share my info with advertisers? Not really. But, then again, just about everything on the internet is paid for through personalized advertisements and  I like using Facebook for “free.”

Other criticisms, however, really aren’t Facebook’s fault. Scammers absolutely create fake profiles. That’s one of the main reasons that I keep this blog. There are lots of other people out there doing the same thing as me to let people know what they should avoid. Now, I don’t think that Facebook wants fake profiles on its site, but I appreciate that the company doesn’t go around disabling accounts without  proof. It’s the ultimate version of free speech. Here’s the deal, if you want free speech, you have to know how to shut out the BS. That’s the price you pay for being able to create a group that expounds just about any opinion.

Lastly, I want to confront the accusation that Facebook ads contain malware. The ads themselves don’t have malware, but clicking on them can lead to sites that do. That might seem like an arbitrary distinction to some, but I think that it is an important one. When using social networking sites, we all need to learn that there are risks. If you click on one of those ridiculous ads claiming that you can lose 50 pounds in a month or whiten your teeth immediately, then maybe you shouldn’t be using the internet at all. Now, that doesn’t mean that Facebook has zero responsibility. Clearly  they do. But Facebook is currently the most popular social networking site in the world. This popularity makes it one of the biggest targets of hackers who want access to large numbers of victims.

Feeling completely safe on Facebook is as unrealistic as visiting a crowded retail store and thinking that no one will ever pick your pocket. The problem isn’t totally Facebook’s fault. It’s largely that we haven’t learned how to behave in a virtual environment.

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~ by facebookhoaxes on May 11, 2010.

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