The secret of success of social networks

These web sites are like email on crack..

Yesterday I have been watching episode 5×22 of the TV show Criminal Minds: “The internt is forever”. It is about a murderer who successfully seeks his victims thru social networks.

OK, that’s a TV show with lots of fiction and thrill. But this episode contains a big portion of realism. Many people are scared of participating in social networks. Many of them probably don’t even know exactly why they are afraid of social networks, they just follow their instincts or have a kind of unspecified phobia that someone could abuse their data in some form.

And they might be right. While social  networks provide some great opportunities to “meet” a lot of “remote” people, discover new knowledge, find experts and hints and tips and solutions to problems, boost someone’s own reputation, they also come with a lot of risk as well. If for instance you post by the minute where you are foreigners easily can figure out when you are not at home. If they also found out where that is you should not be surprised that your home has been robbed when you return. Hint # 1: post your travel plans after the fact. Hint # 2: don’t post your address. Nevertheless, you might have posted a photo somewhere of your house which has been geo-tagged and thus one does not have to be a good hacker to find out your address.

This is just one example of a risk. There are many and thus it is vital to use social networks right and smart once you decided to use them at all. But be aware: the more you publish, the higher your risk. And once you have joined there is always some risk that someone abuses your data. You simply have to accept this when joining some social network.

Is it worth it ? Boosting ones own reputation is certainly one motivation to use social networks. Is it the main reason for many ? In this TV show one agent is making an interesting statement: The success of social network lies in the fact that people believe other people are interested in what they are posting.

A nasty statement. Or a true one ? I actually believe there is much truth in that statement. If you are an active participant in social networks, think for yourself: how much do you worry about your own writings and feedback you get ? And how much do you worry about what others write ?

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