I’m not a fan of social networking sites, and here’s why:
They are perfect nests for malware, and also are not very “privacy” attentive. Since the majority of the social networking people are novices (hold on geeks, I’m not saying you’re not there), and NOT security conscious or savvy, it’s an ideal breeding ground for the spread of malware (“click on this link, it’s kool”).
People hear from their friends, “If you’re not on Facebook, you’re missing out on a kool way to connect with your friends/family and keep up to date with the latest news and info about them and also other sites. It’s way better than email!” (Or the stubby pencil method of snail mail . . . writing a longhand personal letter is just about a lost art. For example, what quality of “history” would we have if Winston Churchill or Thomas Jefferson had not written longhand letters to friends and family? It would be pretty sterile without the insight of their writings.)
So, people go out and buy a computer, take it out of the box, plug it in, and immediately go to FB (I’m exaggerating some, but you get the point.) These people have little or no concept of even basic best security practices or privacy concerns . . . an ideal place for purveyors of spam lists and writers of malware to thrive. Security best practices are an annoyance to these novices and are viewed as nothing more than a bother that slows them down and dilutes the “experience” . . . creating a profitable playground for malware writers. Malware writers and the criminal rings they represent get the biggest bang for their buck on these social networking sites.
All that said, there are some individuals on FB and brethren that ARE aware of security, and there ARE ways to participate safely and protect your privacy. But that requires some caution, and as I said, this is seen as a bother and an annoyance by the unwashed masses and something not necessary. FB encourages that attitude by giving a false sense of security . . . more like the Fox guarding the Chickens.
I’m not saying these things are necessarily unsafe, but they ARE if you don’t implement at least some basic security best practices. Geeks, student-Geeks, or just plain security savvy individuals CAN participate, but I think they are in the minority and swimming with novices that attract sharks.
Social networking can be fun and can be productive (not for me though), but you’ve GOT to be security and privacy conscious.