AS THEY say, it's the wild west out there.
Parents in the UK were recently called on by the children's minister to take responsibility for their children's online activities, suggesting that kids were getting involved in social media at too young an age.
Another MP said explicit pictures sent to boyfriends and girlfriends risked having those pictures shown around playgrounds.
Once taken and sent, the sender loses control of these images and they could end up anywhere from being passed all around school to being viewed and passed on by paedophiles, said the MP in a recent BBC report.
As the most efficient way to share personal information, social networks give stalkers and paedophiles the ability to search for potential victims. Unsuspecting users of social networks may also find themselves in sticky situations when compromising evidence are leaked.
Adding further proof to the fact that there are people out there who spend a considerable amount of time stalking others, a form of civilian espionage exists: doxing, a term defined as a technique of gathering information about a person using sources on the Internet.
An entry on Urban Dictionary reads: "Doxing method is based purely on the ability of the hacker to recognise valuable information about his target and use this information to his benefit."
This is not to imply that a teenager with the best of intentions should be deterred from sharing photos of his or her 16th birthday bash with friends, but walling up revealing details such as personal information, pictures, or location goes a long way to avoid unwanted and obsessive attention.
To what extent personal content should be walled up is anyone's prerogative, but the point is oversharing can lead to disaster. It doesn't matter whether it concerns children or adults.
A Singaporean housewife's reputation was tarnished after discovering a photo of herself on a pornographic website, according to the Straits Times.
According to the report published on Monday, it wasn't the first time for the mother of four. She was told by a friend previously that the photo had also popped up on a dating site, accompanied by a caption which listed a telephone number to call and how much it costs to chat.
Misuse of private content may be a norm in some circles of the web, but as evidenced by the closure of the website owned by Hunter Moore (who was notorious for publishing compromising pictures of men and women without their permission) there will always be opposing parties wanting to put end to those practices.
The recent amendments to the Penal code intended to take on cyber-sex crime and sexual exploitation of children is a much lauded effort by the government. But preventative measures are not enough on their own.
A false sense of security can be avoided at least, by ensuring the kids aren't sharing everything with everyone. They should be allowed to reap the positive benefits of social networks without having their safety compromised.
The Brunei Times
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
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