16 Social networking

Social Networking

A social network is asocial structure madeof nodes (which aregenerally individuals ororganizations) that are tiedby one or more specifictypes of interdependency,such as values, visions,ideas, financial exchange,friendship, dislike, conflictor trade. Social networksare fun to use, helpful for job hunting, and great for keeping in touch with friends, business contacts and relatives.

Social networking is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small exploring the interests and activities, or who are interested in person, especially in the workplace,schools,colleges and universities, it is most popular filled with millions of individuals who are looking to meet other people, to share first-hand information and experiences about interests like cooking,golfing,gardening,developingfriendships professionals alliances, finding employment, business-to-business marketing and even groups sharing information about baking cookies to the Thrive Movement. The topics and interests are as varied and rich as the story of our universe.

The other side of Social Network is security and privacy issues and is entirely treated as two different issues. As security issue, the third person gains unauthorized access to the information of protected resources and the privacy issues is someone can gain access to confidential information by simply watching you what you type your password. But both types of breaches are often intertwined on social networks, especially since anyone who breaches network and opens the door to easy access to private information belonging to any user. The reason behind Social network security and privacy lapses exist because of the amounts of information the sites process each and every day that end up making it much easier to exploit a single flaw in the system. Features that invite user participation - messages, invitations, photos, open platform applications, etc. – are often the avenues used to gain access to private information.

The popularity of social networking sites has increased at astonishing levels. There is no arguing the usefulness of sites such as Face book, Twitter and LinkedIn. They can be used for professional networking and job searches, as a means to increase sales revenue, as a tool to keep the public informed of safety and other issues or as a way to reconnect with friends from way-back-when.

Uses of Social Networking

  • Meeting the people online across the world
  • Making friendship with the people who are far away
  • Profile building
  • Self representation
  • Exchanging / Sharing the information related to studies or education, current affairs, sports, business, transport, movies, latest news updates, event announcements, exchanging the thoughts etc
  • Share the data files, videos, music, photos

Social Networking Risks and Challenges

Social networking has become most popular activity in today’s Internet world, with billions of people across the world are using this media to meet old friends, making new friends, to collect and share information, social networking while being a popular media has several disadvantages associated with it. These sites can be trapped by scammers or hackers leading to loss of confidentiality and identity theft, of the users. Social Networking sites are becoming very popular especially among the growing kids. These sites expose the kids to various risks like online bullying, disclosure of personal information, cyber-stalking, access to inappropriate content, online grooming, child abuse, etc. In addition there are many more risks like fake profiles with false information, malicious application, spam, and fake links which leads to phishing attacks etc.,

a. Illegal content:

In General, anybody who access social networking or media sites may not deliberately seek out inappropriate content and may inadvertently access content while undertaking online access or searches or they may seek it out or be referred content by others. The content that includes sexually explicit, illegal images of sexual abuse, violence, criminal activity or accidents, from video clips, promotes extreme political views, potentially used in the radicalization of vulnerable members of the community, basis of race, religion, sexual preference or other social/cultural factors. They may also exposes to online advertising which promotes adult content.

The illegal content on the sites, images of child abuse and unlawful hate speech. Age-inappropriate content on the sites, such as pornography or sexual content, violence, or other content with adult themes which may be inappropriate for young people and they might discover content through their smart phones that may be blocked by home and school internet filters

b. Spam

As we all know that spam is usually unwanted e-mail advertising about a product sent to list of e-mails or group of e-mail addresses. Similarly spammers are sending the unwanted mails or messages to the billions of users of social networking sites which are free; and are easily accessible by spammers to gather the personal information of the unsuspecting users.

Social spam is unwanted spam content appearing on social networks and any website with user-generated content (comments, chat, etc.). It can be manifested in many ways, including bulk messages, insults, hate speech, malicious links, fraudulent reviews, fake friends, and personally identifiable information. Bulk messages in social networking sites are a set of comments repeated multiple times with the same or very similar text. These messages, also called as spam-bombs, can come in the form of one spammer sending out duplicate messages to a group of people in a short period of time, or many active spam accounts simultaneously posting duplicate messages.

c. Abusive, vulgar, or irreverent language:

User-submitted comments that contain swear words or slurs are classified as profanity or abusive or vulgar or irrelevant language. Common techniques include “cloaking” works by using symbols and numbers in place of letters. These bad words are still recognizable by the human eye, though are often missed by website monitors due to the misspelling.

d. Insults:

User-submitted insults are comments that contain mildly or strongly insulting language against a specific person or persons. These comments range from mild name-calling to severe bullying. Online bullies often use insults in their interactions, referred to as cyber bullying. Hiding behind a screen name allows users to say mean, insulting comments with anonymity; these bullies rarely have to take responsibility for their comments and actions.

e. Threats:

User-submitted threats of violence are comments that contain mild or strong threats of physical violence against a person or group.  It may also quickly turn into a stream of racism and provoke to insulting comments, and threats against others. This is a more serious example of social spam.

f. Hate speech:

User-submitted hate speech is a comment that contains strongly offensive content directed against people of a specific race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

g. Malicious links: User-submitted comments can include malicious links that will inappropriately harm, mislead, or otherwise damage a user or computer. These links are most commonly found on video entertainment sites, such as Youtube. What happens when you click on malicious links can range from downloading malware to your device, to directing you to sites designed to steal your personal information, to drawing unaware users into participating in concealed advertising campaigns.

Malware can be very dangerous to the user, and can manifest in several forms: virus, worm, spyware, Trojan Horse, or adware. Malicious application might come through different application while using or installing software’s. Similarly, the clicking on the social networking application starts the application installation process or link to view the video, etc. In order to fulfill its intended operation the application requests for some elevated privileges from the user like access to my basic information, update on my wall, post on my wall, etc

Tip: Always check the authenticity of the person before you accept a request

h. Fraudulent Reviews:

Reviews of a product or service or Movie or story from users that never actually used it. These are often solicited by the proprietor of the product or service, who contracts out positive reviews, “reviews-for-hire”. Some companies are attempting to tackle this problem by warning users that not all reviews are genuine

i.Fake Friends:

Fake friends occur when several fake accounts connect or become “friends”. These users or spam boats often try to gain credibility by following verified accounts, such as those for popular celebrities and public figures. If that account owner follows the spammer back, it legitimizes the spam account, enabling it to do more damage.

j. Personally identifiable information:

User-submitted comments that inappropriately display full names, physical addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, or credit card numbers are considered leaks of personally identifiable information.

k. Phishing:

As we all know the phishing attack is creation of fake site just similar to original site. Similarly these days even social networking phishing has come in different flavors just like phishing attacks on banks and popular trading websites. Social networking phishing has come up with fake mails and messages like offering some specialized themes, updating the profile, updating the security application/features etc. In order to see the updates the user needs to follow a link and log in, through which the credentials are taken by the attacker. The linked page is a fake copy of the original login page, focused on stealing user account credentials

l.Click jacking:

Generally, click jacking is a malicious technique of tricking Web users like phishing into revealing confidential information or taking control of their computer while clicking on seemingly innocuous Web pages. Vulnerability across a variety of browsers and platforms, a click jacking takes the form of embedded code or script that can run without the user’s knowledge. The same is followed in the social networking domain. The objective behind such an attack is that users can be tricked into clicking in the links, icons, buttons etc, which could trigger running of processes at the background wi thout the knowledge of the user

m. Conduct:

This relates to how people behave online, this may include bullying or victimization (behaviors such as spreading rumors, excluding peers from one’s social group, and withdrawing friendship or acceptance) and potentially risky behaviors (which may include for example, divulging personal information,posting sexually provocative photographs, lying about real age or arranging to meet face-to-face with people only ever previously met online) Networking sites are third party application program interface (API) which allows for easy theft of private information and it gave developers access to more information like addresses, pictures than needed to test the applications

Guidelines for Social networking:

  • Don’t give or post any personal information like your name, address of the school / home, phone numbers, age, sex, credit card details
  • The information which was posted by you in online can be seen by everyone who is online because internet is the world’s biggest information exchange tool. Many people who are having access to the site which you are using can access your profile and get all the information what you have posted. The persons who is having access to your profile may include good persons like your friends, parents, teachers and bad persons like strangers
  • Be aware that the information you give in the sites could also put you at risk of victimization
  • Never give out your password to anyone other than your parent or guardian
  • Change your password frequently, and avoid clicking links that purport to send you back to the social network site. Instead, type the site’s address directly into your browser (or follow a bookmark you’ve previously saved) to get back to your account
  • When you are choosing a Social Networking site, privacy issues should be considered
  • While accepting the friends on Social Networking sites, be selective. Only add people as friends to your site if you know them in real life
  • Never meet in person with anyone whom you met on Social Networking site because some of the people may not be who they say they are
  • Take your parents’ permission if you want to meet the person whom you met in the networking site
  • Most of the Social Networking web sites enabling users to set privacy controls for who has the ability to view the information. So try to use such facilities
  • Do not post anything which harm to your family credibility
  • Never post photographs, videos and any other sensitive information to unknown persons in Social network sites
  • If you think that your social networking account details have been compromised or stolen, report your suspicions to the networking site support team immediately.
  • Never respond to harassing or rude comments which are posted on your profile.
  • Delete any unwanted messages or friends who continuously leave inappropriate comments and immediately report those comments to the networking site
  • Do not post your friends information in networking sites, which may possibly put them at risk. Protect your friends by not posting the group photos, school names, locations, ages, sex…etc
  • Avoid posting the plans and activities which you are going to do in networking sites
  • Check the privacy settings of the Social Networking sites and set the settings in such a way that the people can only be added as your friend if you approve them also set the settings in such a way that the people can only view your profile if you have approved them as a friend

Information sources:



Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, (C-DAC)
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