There are plenty of “fun” uses for social networking technologies, but how else can social networking websites be used? The term “networking” implies wide distribution and cultivating people who can be helpful. That means thinking outside the box and going beyond interacting with people you see or speak with on a regular basis (i.e. posting a comment to your friend’s wall while being on the phone with them).
The site LinkedIn is a good example of how social networking technology can be used for society’s benefit. LinkedIn generates opportunities for companies and potential emloyees. In an article by Frank Langfitt, Social Networking Technology Boosts Job Recruiting, company executives discuss how easy job recruiting became thanks to LinkedIn. Shally Steckerl, a leader in online recruiting for Microsoft says, “he can scout a group of job candidates in just half an hour.” That definitely beats days of skimming through resumes, holding interviews with candidates who are not quite what the company was looking for, and calling people to see “who they know”.
There are many companies who use online social networking to improve their business. Besides recruiting, social networking websites are widely used for marketing/advertising. These sites offer time-efficiency solutions to the public: faster and easier ways to connect everyone who chooses to use them. Although with every plus there is usually a minus.
Perhaps the biggest issue thats proves to be a “dark side” of social networking is privacy. In an article titled Leaving ‘Friendprints’: How Online Social Networks Are Redefining Privacy and Personal Security, the author discusses how posting personal information online can have adverse effects on a person’s life. “When a business contact from the LinkedIn world wants to become your friend on Facebook, do you accept the invitation, giving them access to the photos on your Facebook profile from last summer’s rowdy beach party?” The article poses questions such as these, stating that posting the smallest amount of information online (e.g. your name and birthdate) can open doors for identity theft, harrassment/stalking and other complications. The privacy controls on social networking websites are questionable. And though one may think they’ve deleted their embarrassing photos after becoming friends with their colleagues on Facebook, chances are that those photos are still accessible (especially if 10 of your friends are in the photos with you, in which case they probably saved and posted the photos onto their profiles).
For the most part, I think that these technologies will offer more benefits to society in the future. It might make us less human, but time will be saved and society will, in theory, become more organized. Perhaps online social networking will even become a key tool for preventing crimes and catching criminals, but that means inevitably facing other problems.