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Social Networking Sites - Essay Example

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As online social networking sites become more familiar, there have emerged some very serious concerns about the prospects of protecting personal information disclosed through profiles on these sites and the security threats involved which render these social networking sties vulnerable not only from predators and scam artists, but from nosy employers and campus authorities (Kharif, 2006)…
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Social Networking Sites Essay
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"Social Networking Sites"

Download file to see previous pages Quite recently, an announcement by the Facebook to make available the personal information of about 40 million of its members has intensified the concerns over the privacy policies of these sites (Arthur, 2007).
Although, members of these sites disclose their personal information voluntarily, the sole responsibility lies with the networking sites to protect this information. However, this is not the case at present and in the subsequent pages I will discuss the privacy concerns in the context of problems reported from MySpace and the Facebook which are the most popular sites among hundreds of such sites.
Danah Boyd (2006), in her blog has defined the social networking sites as "a category of websites with profiles, semi-persistent public commentary on the profile, and a traversable publicly articulated social network displayed in relation to the profile". Members of these sites generally create a profile upon registering with a network and may be able to upload one or more pictures as well. This profile may be viewed either by a specifically-designated category of users or by any registered or even unregistered user of the site.
Participants form groups and individual links between users based on their interests, affiliations, and so on. When a new user joins an online social networking site and sets up a profile, he or she can share personal information with others. Therefore, each site has a different privacy policy and various privacy features. Further, online social networking sites offer ways for individuals to differentiate their profiles-like decorating a room-through the use of personalization tools (MySpace profile). Some sites offer a great deal of personalization, while others prefer uniformity across the board.
The main focus of online social networking sites is to bring people together within user-driven, participatory forums, usually targeted toward particular subgroups like college students, activists, pet owners, and so on. Members of these social networks form their online community by creating profiles, or virtual personas, and connecting with others. Thus, the significant characteristic of these sites is to facilitate the formation of social ties, whether strong or weak. Mark Granovetter, in his article "The Strength of Weak Ties" argues that both strong and weak ties are necessary in order to provide individuals with diverse information and to facilitate social networking (Granovetter, 1973). These social networking sites help people share their writing, hold conversations, debate with each other, buy and sell goods, and more.
At present, there are hundreds of online social networking sites available, each with a slightly different look and feel. Some of the more popular sites are MySpace, Facebook, and Classmates.com. The sites with the highest numbers of members usually offer an angle to entice users to register, return often, and incorporate the site into their lives.
With the increasing popularity of these sites, privacy related issues have also been reported widely in the media and on the net. There are two aspects of social networking ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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