September 16, 2012

Social Media is a Great Way to Connect, But What's the Risk?

Like any new technology, we often focus on the benefits to help it gain mainstream adoption before we can predict the potential risks that come with it. Social media is one of the greatest modern examples of this. While our lives get busier, our desire to connect with people around the world has grown as well, and social media has been a driving force behind our ability to do this no matter how crazy life gets.

Whether it's sharing photos with friends and family, meeting new people, or dating, social media has firmly entrenched itself in our every day communication with just about everyone. So much so that it's easy to forget that we need to be savvy and responsible when online. Just as we have to remind ourselves to obtain more than one source to get balanced news, or remember that Wikipedia isn't necessarily verified information, so too should we be skeptical when we're engaging in social networks.

Take this recent example written by Dara Kerr at CNET of Taliban members engaging with military troops in Australia with false Facebook profiles to gain important mission information. And if you're unsure, use this rule of thumb: be ware of hot women randomly "friending" you on the popular social networking site. And for more info, check out the US Army's Social Media Handbook which has a lot of great information for anyone - in service or not.



  1. Cerys - as usual, a thought provoking and useful post - particularly the link to the social media handbook, which I wasn't aware of.

    I have always been wary of hot women, whether on the Internet or not (though I should hasten to say there are exceptions - just in case my current temporary future ex-wife blunders into this thread!) But my bigger problem with social media - one that kept me away from it for some time - is the sheer volume of c%*p that it seems to generate.

    Maybe I'm not setting the right filters - or maybe I'm just a grumpy old man way before my time - but I am fed up with my day being interrupted by multiple instances of "I'm bored" or "Fish fingers again for tea", sometimes followed by e-mails asking why I haven't responded to the sender of Facebook, Twitter &c., &c., &c.

    I am utterly convinced of the benefits of social media when it comes to me 'pushing' a message - though I still haven't got into the habit of doing so regularly. I am less convinced of its benefits in terms of an information or connection channel. With an average 130 e-mails per day I have to be very parsimonious with my other communications activities. It's a conundrum I have yet to consider in depth, but it contributes to a daily frustration factor.

    However, the more regular appearance of hot women may, of course, change my view. And if it turns out to be the Taliban, perhaps the security of the connection between head and shoulders!

  2. Tim! You never fail to make me laugh and pause of consideration with your responses. I agree, social media can suck you in! There have been so many times where I have spent hours and hours engaging with people, reTweeting, posting to LinkedIn that the day passes without me getting much else accomplished. On the other hand, I find that I have to set calendar reminders to post to this blog when things get busy. I often find the best way to keep things manageable is to focus each platform on the things you want it for - for example, Facebook is for friends and family - not work. LinkedIn is for promoting my work and building a professional network only - not engaging with customers and Twitter is a melange of everything and functions as a great news feed. Now that I've cleaned up my sites accordingly I don't get nearly as much "garbage" coming at me in ways that I don't want.