Everyone has heard of social networking web sites. Social networks such as MySpace and FaceBook. Most surfers who are on line all around the world have at least one account with one of these many, many social networks. They allow people to find long-lost friends, stay in touch with family and make new contacts in places or even countries that they have never been to.
When you sign up to one of these social networking sites, you will be asked to fill in account details. These details have nothing to do with a bank account. Rather they are what most members call their ‘profile’.
This profile can request fairly detailed questions on the pretext that the more information you give, the easier it will be for your friends to find you, should they become looking.
Typical questions are name, age, sex, address, schools attended, location of work, musical interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes, Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail address book passwords and user names. They also would like a photo.
They want your address book so that they can email your friends to tell them that you are now a member and offer them membership as well. So, as you can see, it becomes vital to judge just how much detail it is wise or you are willing to give away.
The first thing to keep in mind is: just because a social networking site asks you for an answer to a question, do not feel that you have to answer it. For instance, it is a fact that if you add lots of details and a photo, more members might recognize you and want to become friends, yet how many strangers do you want in your home town to know where you live, where you go to school or work and what you look like?
If you are worried that you may be simple for a predator to trace, lie about your location. For example, if you live in a small town, say you live in the nearest big city but make certain you put a matching zip or post code from that city too.
If you post a photo, it is probably not a wise thing to put details of where you go and where you live. On the other hand you could supply those details so that friends can find you, yet use an avatar or cartoon to represent your image and use a nickname instead of your real name.
If you decide on a nickname, choose a sensible one. ‘Hotand Lusty1990’ or ‘BigBoy1990’ are not apt for most people no matter how funny you might think they are at the time of registration. Do not include your age or a tell-tale to your age either, as in the above examples. People will take for granted that the number is your year of birth.
The guiding principle should be: how much would I tell a stranger if one walked up to me in the street? Not much, probably. Well, there could be thousands doing just that in the virtual streets of social networking.
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