We all know by now that part of our life is living in a virtual world: The Social Networks. Social networks are a combination of websites that allow sharing information, thoughts, ideas, and even some of those few embarrassing moments in life. Websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram are part of the social networks. They require a username and password to acquire access to them, and can be easily accessed from PCs, laptops, or mobile devices, such as phones, and tablets. These virtual environments entice you “post” or share information about yourself with the whole world. “What?”, you may ask, “The whole world?”. The answer is yes, everyone with a device connected to the Internet and with access to those websites could potentially view what you have shared with others. There are some advantages in sharing information, as long as you know how to manage the content carefully: The information you share can reach more than one person at a time, so you do not have to be sending those pictures of your newly acquired pet individually to Grandma, Aunt Tillie or your wife's second cousin's best friend's neighbor's brother. The information, if the accounts are managed correctly, can only be viewed or accessed by the few with whom you wish to share. Everything and anything that you “post” can be viewed instantly on any part of the world by those select few that are counted as your closest “friends”. There are some disadvantages, though. Everyone and anyone can post pictures and information about anyone, including you, so be sure not to be caught in an embarrassing or dubious situation. Some viruses, malware, and malicious code may be distributed in those websites, either by mistake, or on purpose. Friends of friends can sometimes view the information you have shared, even if they are not part of your “allowed friends”. “So, what am I to do, if I choose to share information on these networks?” you may ask. First, and foremost, be sure to follow the basic rules of thumb: If you do not want certain pictures or information to be viewed by others, do not share it at all. Do not be caught in any situation that you may regret in the future (yes, that giant bottle of beer could make you drunk, so do not drink it, especially if you are going to drive afterward). Beware that there are some “phishing” scams (websites or senders claiming to be the “real thing”, when they are not) going around, trying to “catch” your information. Treat the “virtual world” as you would treat the real world. Last, but not least, if in doubt, do not open that link or E-Mail that pretends to come from one of those networks. This information is written from the point of view on an “older” guy, who still cannot “catch up” with the new trends of “social media” and “social networks”.
F. Bobbio C.