Saturday, June 15, 2024


Ever wonder what the world would be like if it wasn’t for the latest gadgets?
Well instead of Facebook chats, imagine writing a long letter to a distant friend.

It seems the need for letters has become redundant with the introduction of email and the ever popular Facebook, which sprung up overnight.

The various features, such as chat, allow real time instant message feedback between you and your friend and interactions with your friends have been made easier.

Whilst these new technological developments have been cost and time effective, they do pose a number of problems, including personal safety.

With Facebook it becomes easy to fall prey to stalkers, with your personal details there for everyone to see. It is risky to be very personal on the social network.

Ron Bowes, a security consultant and blogger at Skull Security, used a piece of computer script to scan Facebook profiles listed in Facebook’s public profile directory. Using the script, Bowes collected the names and profile URL (Uniform Resource Locator) for every publicly searchable Facebook profile.

To help preserve your privacy there are steps that can be taken to help see if you are at risk. On the top right of the page you should see a button that says “Preview My Profile.” Clicking that button will show you all the information you make public on Facebook.

Data you may want to consider hiding includes your hometown, birth date, age, phone number, current city and e-mail address. It is also advisable to regularly update your ‘block list’, this blocks people and applications.

Someone could use this data as a starting point to find other publicly available user data on Facebook. After all, you have to wonder how many of these 171 million Facebook users have publicly exposed e-mail addresses, phone numbers and other information on their profiles? It is a well known fact that the more a criminal knows about you the greater you are at risk.

There have also been reported cases of employees being fired due to over indulgence on Facebook. There is an instance where an employee shared his views with the world about his boss, only to face the music with his boss.

I asked a friend of mine, Naledi Magowe, why she joined Facebook.
“I joined in 2008 to keep in touch with my friends. A lot of my friends are overseas,” she added.

When asked how often she uses Facebook she said every day.
“I use about half of my airtime on my phone for Facebook and sometimes at home I’m on it the whole day,” she said. “It’s true you do get detached from the rest of the world and everyday life, it’s addictive.”

It seems that there is a need for society to step out of its comfort zone and perhaps sit and reflect.

What happens to our communication and language skills when we are glued to the facebook screen looking for something?

A simple but embarrassing example of language skills failing happened when a classmate of mine was exposed in class for using short text words in an essay. It’s now become common to find people writing. It’s also clear that people’s vocabulary is not expanded by the shortening of words and slang that is pervasive on Facebook. Whatever the case may be, Facebook continues to grow and has more and more people joining the network.


Read this week's paper