Facebook Threats

[/caption] Christina Tadin Staff Writer Is the world’s biggest social networking site also one of the most dangerous? The recent murder of 17-year-old British teen Ashleigh Hall has not only sparked a movement for greater safety measures on Facebook, but has also exposed the dark side of this international social networking phenomenon. Ashleigh, a teen looking for love, agreed to a face-to-face meeting with Peter Chapman, a 33-year-old convicted rapist, who posed on the site as a handsome teenage boy. Within hours she had been kidnapped, raped and killed by Chapman. Although serious crimes such as this one are rare, anyone, especially teenagers, can be subject to predators on Facebook. In recent research, Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre claimed that in the first quarter of the year it received 253 complaints about Facebook, and 39% were about kids being stalked by pedophiles. It really does happen a lot more than people think. It does not always end tragically, but the dangers certainly exist. Nowadays, teens are captivated with becoming internet-famous: the more Facebook friends they have, the more popular they are. But often times, the awful truth is that the more online friends one might have, the larger the target on their back is. Now, this does not mean that every teenager who has more than a certain amount of friends will be lurked after, because it can happen to anyone, regardless of their friend count. However, if teens publicize and attract more attention to themselves, they can accidentally draw the wrong type of people. But, because of the high level of naivety that exists in teens, they are often subject to these dangers. Not only in these unusual cases of rape and murder, but in the fact that nothing is private on Facebook and everything posted is out in the open for many people. So no matter how private teens think their profiles are, it is still a bad idea for them to post racy pictures on Facebook. According to a Kaplan study, one in ten college admissions officers checks out college applicant’s Facebook pages. And yes, although students change their names or set their profiles to private to stay hidden, if an administrator really wants to see the page, they probably can. Some 38% of the officers found posts and pictures that made the potential students put into question. In many cases, it was not even that the students had provocative photos of them partying, but merely negative posts about the respective schools. Students just need to be aware and conscious of not only the pictures they put up, but also the posts they write and the statuses they update. This is extremely relevant to Latin students, who would not want to risk all their hard work by posting something they will regret. And unluckily for teens, it is not only admissions officers who are doing the stalking. Some upper classmen at the University of Redlands got so infuriated by the comments made by incoming freshmen on the Redlands Facebook group site regarding a party, that they showed the posts to the college administrators. Although the recent headlines and case studies should be a cause for reflection, it does not mean students have to delete their pages. In fact, many professors and college staff members have Facebooks- and nowadays colleges are actually using Facebook to broadcast messages to incoming students. The bottom line is teens just have to be careful. It is highly recommended for students to remove their contact info like their phone number and address–not only as a safety issue, but because sharing such information shows bad judgment. And, of course, keeping there posts and photos PG. Even though it is the cool thing to have a thousand friends, you never know who is looking over the shoulder of one of your “friends” to get info on you.]]>