In the year 2011 a survey indicated that around 47 percent of adults in America use some social networking site or other. This is not any local but a global trend. A significant portion of the world population uses the social networking sites on quite a regular basis today. With this boom in social networking, a few ill practices have seeped into the system and the users should be aware of these in order to avoid unnecessary pitfalls. Here is a list of common issues that may be of interest to any user:
Credibility of Information
A disturbing trend has emerged in recent years regarding information shared on the social networking sites. In many instances, these sites have often been hijacked by elements spreading baseless ‘facts’ resulting in a complete abuse of the ‘freedom of expression’. Users should avoid being gullible and should practice discretion and protect themselves from being affected from the rampant misinformation on these sites.
Another ill-practice that has boomed over the years is the existence of the numerous fake user profiles in these sites. Orkut lost its credibility mainly due to a growing use of such profiles. Despite early efforts by facebook to nail such fake users, this website today is full of them. In fact, a survey revealed that a significant chunk of facebook users are actually non-existent in person. Fake female-profiles attract a section of the male users and in extreme cases this has even resulted in disastrous results due to misguidance and abuse of social rights.
Bullying and Trolling
With growing use of social networking sites undesirable elements have crept up who resort to needless bullying, defamation, harmful commenting and pranks and persecute hapless, innocent victims and pages. These elements are often mentally unsound in real person and use their social media profiles as an alter-ego of what they actually are. Such practices cause emotional trauma both for the victim and the ‘bully’. In 2006 a fake MySpace profile owned by Lori Janine Drew trolled and this resulted in the suicide of Megan Meier. The world sat up and took notice for the first time the effects of the misuse of social networking.
Peer pressure in a very wrong way is a very real threat among users of these sites. Believe it or not, numerous surveys have pointed towards the dangerous implications of exaggerated portrayal of user-profiles by themselves. It is often a common practice on these websites to exaggerate and to blow out of proportion everything, even personal data. This is actually a hidden and very harmful trend in social networking. Experts say that a majority of the profiles on these sites are actually either less than or greater than, but never equal to what they portray. This leads to consequences born out of jealousy and harmful reactions. As in real life the golden rule to be followed on the social network too remains ‘represent yourself and please DO NOT impersonate’.
Many users believe that they cannot be held responsible for anything they do or say on the social network. Out of this belief they often resort to misusing their freedom of expression and free speech. They abuse others’ rights for the same. While laws against cyber violations may not be strong enough, yet they are becoming stronger by the day. Instances where severe penalties have been imposed on offenders are not uncommon.
Last but not obviously the least, another disturbing trend with the rise in social networks is Attention Seeking Disorder. In fact, this has reached gigantic proportions and affects a large chunk of users today. Just to get attention these users will resort to any means and even fake serious illnesses. Sufferers of this syndrome get further and further away from the real world and get their minds enchained in a make-believe world of duplicity and in extreme cases might even lead to serious disruptions of social life.