Social Networks are sure getting a lot of attention these days; and when I read about them in news or in trade journals, I am not surprised to see that the issues about social networks are varied. But what surprises me the most is when I ask groups of people what their impression of social networks is, the reaction is predominantly negative. That is exactly what has happened to me twice in the last 30 days.
In two different meeting settings, I asked the audience if their general impression of social networks was positive or negative. Well over 50 percent of the responses were negative. So, then I wondered if I am only using a social network for social activities, why is it so negative? If I am communicating with my children or nieces and nephews and having a good laugh about online games, what could be so bad? I also look for my son’s photos from the past week’s college football game – being the proud mom that I am. So my perception of social networks is that they are lots of fun, and I get to see lots of photos of family that I would not normally get to see.
Then why the negative – I surmise that social networks are more than social. Companies are using them to push product information to customers; human resource departments are using them to learn personal information about a job applicant. People who are using them to be social are finding that their words and personal information are being viewed by companies that are not social. It is true, companies are using personal data that we post on our social networks to screen applicants. So now a social network is no longer social. It is a recruiting tool.
Companies collect information about your preferences and push ads that you might be interested in to influence your spending habits. Companies are using social networks as a tool, by gathering our personal information to affect us and our livelihoods. Social networks are no longer just social. But these very same companies can only collect the information about us that we make available.
Be careful what you post. You cannot control what the recipient does with that information. Do not write everything you think - once it is shared, information you thought was no longer available may be around for 20 years or longer. Maybe it is no longer on your Facebook page, but someone may have copied what you wrote and saved it.
What we write on social networks is not just social any more, it is about business.
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