Social Network Profile

One of the main responsibilities of having a social network profile is to make sure our profile information is accurate and complete in order to properly communicate with our trusted connections and allow them to learn more about us and be able to send us messages.

Social networking offers some risks while it provides some benefits. Online social networking is at its infancy and risks surrounding member privacy and rights, website security, and profile validity are just being addressed in piecemeal leaving some of them unaddressed. For example, we continuously hear about cases of fake identities in online networking websites, digital identity theft, and online child abuse for which websites are just starting to implement some monitoring and verification processes. However, there are still many business tricks to demonstrate high website membership and traffic while compromising member privacy and consumer rights. For example, some websites may not allow their members to delete their profiles for the fear of losing credibility and only allow deactivation to protect membership numbers as the number of members and high traffic determine the value of the websites. In other cases, the websites may have a feature to allow users delete an account but the feature is so hidden deep inside the system that even the programmer may have a hard time pointing others to it.

When users are forced to deactivate their accounts instead of deleting them, someone may still be able to guess an account password and log in to activate the account to view personal information or take unauthorized action on behalf of the rightful account owner. When this happens, website users may receive an email notification that their accounts are accessed and activated but why should they deal with such extra work as to log into the website, deactivate the profile again and change the password? Why can’t social network members be in control of their own profiles? Why are members allowed to create their profiles but are not allowed to delete their profiles? The only explanation can only be to demonstrate a long membership list to investors while increasing the risks for both their shareholders and members.

Some social networking websites introduce more risks for their members due to their expanded functionality and therefore must be more diligent in controlling the risks. For example, LinkedIn provides increasing risks and consequences associated with unauthorized account access such as unauthorized account access which can lead to fake spam emails and announcements to thousands of professional members if you own a LinkedIn group.

Website security is often compromised to gather personal information regarding account profiles including names, age, address, SSN, emails, and passwords. The stolen information is then used to commit many types of fraud including wire transfers from bank accounts, counterfeit credit cards, and unauthorized email spams promoting drugs, pornography, etc.

Social networking is a great way to stay in touch with our contacts as well as network with professional members and participate in group discussions but we have to be selective and diligent about which websites we use for uploading and sharing personal information with others, how often we update our information, to what extent we share our information and with whom. For example, some members do not update their social network profile on time especially when they change jobs allowing their email messages or LinkedIn introductions and new connection requests to be routed to the company email where they no longer work. If social network members do not use their own personal and permanent emails, they must be more diligent in updating their social network profile, otherwise, the benefits of effective networking decrease while risks increase.One of the risks is the unnecessary release of a personal email address to the company where they used to work.

As we update our profiles, we must also periodically change our passwords to new and stronger passwords and as we do our best to reduce our social network profile risks, we must be aware that risks will never be fully eliminated and someone may still access our account info or abuse the account features.

With that said, if you receive an email from someone you know who recommends a Viagra pill, don’t get upset and consider the fact that his account might have been overtaken by hackers and spammers. Instead of getting all upset, ask your contact if he has changed careers and notify him about the email you have just received from his account. You never know, he might return the favor one day.

Visit the identity theft prevention section after reading about the social network profile risks.