I ran across and interesting, but short, posting recently on “Recognize and Report Cyberspace Stalking” at the following page. While the article brought up a decent point, such as saving all communications from the stalker, there was much left out.
In general, kids and even adults new to social networking, walk into these networks without any previous understanding of how the information is shared and who can see it from both authenticated (users with accounts) and public eyes. Let’s begin at the basics.
Once a user creates and account and fills out their information, other users on the same social network are generally able to access a fair amount of the information. Without notification to you they are looking at it. Some of the networks offer a more granular control mechanism, yet the defaults go against it. The idea of being in the social network is to share information. So why would they hide everything? In other networks the basic information is displayed and the rest is only available after the person becomes your “friend” on the network. The lesson here is to learn how the network controls information once you register and what is shared automatically. Some social networks are very clear in this ares while others have no indication.
The other side of this is the publicly shared profile information. Many of the networks let you search and find people based on numerous attributes. You can then access the information after you create an account, but by then you have found the person. The user is caught between oversharing and not being properly informed. So how does this relate to the article?
The article treats this as a simple ability to contact an ISP or network to blacklist the person. Social networking goes far beyond this with the inherent ability to recreate account after account, even as you continually ignore the friend requests. They also lightly glaze over the fact that the line between an on-line social network, location services and in person stalking are beginning to blur.
The goal is training kids and newcomers to social networks how to properly fill out profiles, using vague information if a field is required and being very cautious when accepting any friend requests. Even those that could be perpurtrating as someone you know. We will cover that in an upcoming article.
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