The online world of social networking is a great way to stay in touch and meet new friends. There are a number of things, however, that people just don’t consider when signing up for a great new site. These things are definitely downsides of an admittedly great concept and can lead to things like decreased productivity or even identity theft if you’re not careful. There are five potentially dangerous things in particular that you need to watch out for the next time you sign up for a site like Facebook or Twitter.
You likely don’t own the content that you’re putting up on a social networking site. Facebook is a prime example of this. The Facebook terms of service indicate that anything you post to your profile stops being yours the second you hit “Upload” and it gets published on the site. This includes text as well as pictures. If you don’t want a giant corporation owning your family vacation photos, don’t put them on your social media profile. Along these same lines, most social networking terms of service agreements indicate that your image can be used in advertisements.
You might be making it harder for yourself to land a job in the future. More and more employers are starting to look at Facebook profiles and other types of social networking profiles to screen potential applicants. If your Facebook photo still has hundreds of photos of parties from college, for example, a potential employer may use this as an excuse to throw out your resume and move onto the next person.
Most social networking services (like Twitter) have a “Location” feature that tells people exactly where you are. Oftentimes you have to opt into these features, but certain sites enable them by default and attach your location to every post. If you don’t like people to know the area in which you live, consider turning these features off as soon as possible.
Sharing too much makes it easier for people to steal your identity. Most services that you sign up for use a series of “Security Questions” to recover your password. If one of the security questions is “What was the name of your first pet?” and you have that information on your Facebook profile, you’re making it incredibly easy for someone to get access to your account and steal your identity.
You can severely damage your productivity if you aren’t careful. Everyone at some point or another has looked at the clock and realized that they somehow just spent two hours on Facebook and aren’t quite sure how. With social networks being a constant flow of new information that updates on a second-to-second basis, your productivity could absolutely nosedive if you aren’t careful.