Friends and Family or Potential for Abuse?
FRIENDS AND FAMILY OR POTENTIAL FOR ABUSE?
Social media sites, web sharing and other contact/information sharing sites that offer people an opportunity to be “connected” to their friends and family have exploded on the Internet. This is a great idea and provides a unique and wonderful way to stay in contact with others, but there is a dark side that has caused a great deal of trouble for subscribers. We live in the Information Age and everything seems to revolve around information. The more information we have, the more we want. Social media and related sites have been indirectly responsible for damaged or destroyed relationships, lost jobs, and even life-endangerment. As the Internet has provided so much good to people around the world, social media sites promise to bring more entertainment and enjoyment as well. Unfortunately, there are dangers with having this much information available to anyone that wants to view it. Social media sites should be regulated and required to present best-effort actions to prevent the release of information that could be injurious to the subscriber.
Social media sites, social networking and other forms of this Internet technology have provided a way for friends and relatives to keep in touch, as well as a way for business acquaintances to stay in contact. In the Information Age in which we live, information is being exchanged at a prodigious rate. We have numerous companies that provide networking through websites and computers as well as through smart cell phones and Internet availability on those devices as well. These technological wonders allow us to stay connected with those around us even though we may be across town, or across the world. This technology offers communication in ways never seen before, and brings with it profits for those who maintain and support this technology. Like all good things, there can and will be abuses and misuses of the technology.
The proliferation of social media sites offer potential abusers the availability of personal information not found in years past. School children often post phone numbers, addresses and other personal information without the slightest inkling of the inherent dangers in this behavior. Besides offering personal information to the public, social media sites offer the potential for abuse and harassment which can result in catastrophic outcomes. In the last few years there have been reports of social networking sites that were abused, maliciously and with intent to cause mental anguish to another. One notable case involved the suicide death of an otherwise happy and friendly young woman in middle school.
In a New York Times article, When the Bullies Turned Faceless, C. Maag reported that 13-year old Megan Meier was intentionally targeted and attacked in the social networking site, MySpace. The mother of a classmate of Ms. Meier created a fictitious personality of a 16-year old boy. This fictitious boy posted messages to indicate that he liked Ms. Meier, but after a few weeks, the posts turned into cruel attacks. These attacks ultimately resulted in Ms. Meier taking her own life after becoming so despondent over the entire situation. The worst part of this, almost unbelievable attack was that Ms. Meier committed suicide over a hoax. The mother of the classmate, Lori Drew was later arrested and tried for what has become known as cyberbullying.
There are many examples of cyberbullying and other consequences of posting on social media site. Unfortunately, not all of the problems involve children and teens. Adults are becoming victims, sometimes of their own making, because of what they posted or wrote on social networking sites. A young woman who was employed by an insurance company was fired because she was posting on Facebook after calling in sick to work that morning. In a story