Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To friend or not to

I don't mean to be paranoid here, but you better think twice before you become friend with someone in a social network.

It may be an undercover agent that you are accepting as a friend; this could lead to privacy violations if you are an innocent party.
Law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, even going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that surfaced in a lawsuit.

Want to know how they do it and what they can obtain? read up here.
I don't mind if they use social networks to uncover only those who did something wrong or really questionable, but it would be naive for me to think so.

Facebook's rules, for example, specify that users "will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission." Twitter's rules prohibit users from sending deceptive or false information. MySpace requires that information for accounts be "truthful and accurate."
I am confused now; can I prosecute an undercover agent on the above ground?

It may be someone impersonating someone else for totally different reason:
Around September 20, 2006, Lori Drew created the Myspace account for the "Josh Evans" alias. At the time Drew operated the Josh Evans MySpace account, she was aware that Meier had been taking antidepressant medication. Meier committed suicide as a result of the bullying.
It may be someone who tries to defame you by associating you with something that you are not. For example, tagging you in an image that is not socially acceptable or writing defamatory/incorrect remarks about you on your wall.

How do you know if a person is who he/she claims to be in a social network? Well, there's no formula for that. But it is in general a good idea to check the mutual friends a person has before accepting the request. It may not work in some cases. What if some of your friends have already been fooled to be friends with that person? (which I have encountered at least a few times already)

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