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The Obsession with Social Networking

| by Romer Cherubim

( June 25, 2013, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) In our modern computer age, social networking has increasingly replaced personal interaction. Nowadays, why should people bother to take the time to develop face-to-face relationships with each other when they can click a mouse and “relate” with others via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and their variations?

The internet is, of course, a godsend as it allows us to communicate with others on a global scale through websites, accessible to everyone, in most cases. Further, email permits instantaneous transmission of information in the same way. Indeed, email enables individuals to connect with one another through a computer when meeting is either not possible or impractical.

However, social networking websites have taken the world by storm. In fact, they are considered so important that you are the exception rather than the rule if you are not a member of at least one of them. It is a given that these websites give us the opportunity to communicate with each other on a mass scale. But, has anyone really given serious thought to the faults such websites have?

Facebook and Twitter, for instance, enable messages to be relayed to their users, which are sometimes far from complimentary. Indeed, some communications on these websites can be libellous. In this regard, there may be a perception that these two websites enable individuals to make defamatory statements about people without having to fear being sued for libel. Recent caselaw however suggests otherwise if such a statement damages someone’s reputation “in the estimation of right thinking members of society”, to coin the legal jargon.

Secondly, it can be argued that social networking websites could be used by prosecuting authorities throughout the world as a means to investigate crime. In the case of Facebook, it could be submitted that a person’s “friends” on this website might be among some of the first people to be investigated, if the identity of the perpetrator of an offence against this individual is unknown.

In terms of intelligence gathering, Facebook may also be useful to Police forces around the world in alerting them of possible riot spots. This is because Facebook can be used by organisations to inform their members of large meetings, typically outdoors.

Facebook and Twitter do though have their merits. They are, for example, particularly useful to those in the public eye like pop stars when they wish to communicate with their fans. Emails to these well-wishers would be unworkable.

In the final analysis, social networking sites are interesting to discuss. Whatever your opinion is of them, one thing is certain. You cannot be indifferent to them!
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