Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Social Networking Worry 

As if there isn't enough to worry about, it turns out attorneys are using social networking sites as evidence and, in some cases, compelling disclosure of what a person has placed on Facebook or MySpace. There have been concerns about both sites for different reasons related to personal information security. This adds to the overall question of why people would disclose so much about themselves to the world. From a personal reputation consideration, it has never seemed advisable. Now, from a legal point of view there is less to recommend such exhibitionism.

There is a tendency to use communications tools because "everybody is doing it." That has never been a good enough reason. One should look at the implications of a tool as much as its popularity. Social networking tools lend to too much disclosure from individuals who don't know how to use them well. People don't have to know everything about a person. In fact, they shouldn't know. Privacy advocates have a point when they call for better care of personally identifiable information on the internet. On the other hand, when a person freely gives such information away, there is no reason why others should not employ it against them.

I think that the obsession with social networking sites has gotten out
of hand. It is one thing to benefit from the positives of this
technology and quite another to be victimized by your own hand via
Facebook. It doesn’t seem wise to post anything about yourself that
could be viewed negatively. Future employers can view pictures of your
drunken escapades just as easily as your friends. It is obvious that
this isn’t being used as just a social networking tool, but as an
investigative one. The ones who truly benefit from sites like this have
privacy safeguards and censor what they post on the web. A little
moderation can go a long way.
As for social networking sites as evidence, I see no reason why there should be a question of whether or not someone's info on a site such as Facebook can be used in court cases. People openly give personal information, and I agree, generally give too much info. With that, though, people should realize that their information is up for grabs. The only time I could see personal info that shouldn't be used is if comments posted by someone else about a person reveals private information. People today have become too loose about showing their info on social networking sites. I completely agree with Jim's comments and would enjoy hearing from someone why evidence from social sites shouldn't be used for legality. It's hard to believe why info about someone that they willingly posted themselves couldn't be used as evidence. It's a closed case for me.
Facebook and other social networking tools are increasingly the object of scholarly research.

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