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Be careful on the net

Facebook is the most popular social networking website, and as of September this year it had more than a billion active users. The site’s third-quarter revenue for 2012 totalled $1.26 billion, an increase of 32 per cent from 2011.

Facebook is considered a tool for personal and business connections and, since its inception in 2004, it has changed the way we communicate and share information, no matter how personal.

US psychologists have discovered an ailment they call FAD, or Facebook addiction disorder, a form of addiction.

Estimates claim roughly 350 million people suffer from FAD. The side-effects include loss of productivity, the inability to concentrate, a superficiality of friendships and, in extreme cases, isolation.

Several high profile cases involving Facebook have recently been in the news.

In Nigeria, in August, police reported that two serial killers had met their victim on Facebook and invited her to come to Lagos to buy goods at a discounted price.

When the victim arrived, she was taken to a hotel room, drugged, raped and strangled. Her body was found in the hotel.

She was their sixth victim.

Recently in New Jersey, a mother saw postings on Facebook by her two sons that led her to call the police. Her sons, aged 15 and 17, have now been charged with murdering a 12-year-old girl.

The two boys lured the victim, who was a BMX bike fan, to their home with the promise of trading bike parts.

A Cambodian woman was last week charged with the kidnapping and murder of a 19-year-old model after they became friends on Facebook. The victim’s profile increased after she won a beauty contest a month ago.

The woman was arrested after she sent a text to the victim’s family demanding a $50,000 ransom. The victim was strangled before a ransom could be sent.

Remember, your personal information is not safe – nor are you.

Here are a few tips and suggestions for using Facebook:

  1. Check your privacy settings regularly. Facebook is rapidly changing and it can be extremely hard to keep up with all that’s happening. Check your settings every week to be safe.
  2. Be cautious about your updates. Be careful about what you’re updating, especially if you tend to update your location. So if you’re updating things like getting ready to go on vacation or heading to the airport, you’re letting people know that you’re leaving your house.
  3. Be cautious before accepting new friends. Check their profile first to see who their mutual friends are before you accept. Many are scammers and have fake profiles.
  4. Think before you post photos. Make sure there are no identifying features like licence plates, addresses or full names in anything you post. Be wary of posting photos of your children. Many pedophiles use Facebook to lure and groom potential victims.

Next time you’re on Facebook, be conscious of how, and what, you are communicating.

Syria, Iran, China and Vietnam have banned Facebook. Here in Cambodia, we are privileged to have it.

Your message on Facebook is a reflection of who you are. Keep it real.

The Social Agenda with Soma Norodom
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

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