Quiz 4 The internet has grown to be a frightening place. Manipulation of what goes on behind the scenes has grown rampant. These facts mean that younger people must learn to be critical of everything they look at and participate in when it comes to the web. They must question who the author is, who will receive their information, and who has access to it. Vulnerability will be preyed by corporations or hackers, anyone with an agenda. By many, this lesson was learned the hard way as they offered private information to a service they trusted. For instance, the social network MySpace had a glitch in its coding that allowed hackers to crack in, change the code, and access information that was intended to be private. A public relations nightmare, MySpace then had to face criticisms of “I told you so” from many evaluators. “The MySpace hack is the latest front in the way between the hugely popular social networking site and authorities who have criticized it for enabling easy communication between underage teens and sex offenders” (ConsumerAffairs.com). The problem of young users providing intimate information on social networking sites such as MySpace is that many older users will abuse that trust. MySpace is not the only one on the hot seat so far as privacy is concerned. Xanga, a similar site, was pinned with fines regarding violation of the children’s protection act. Xanga “allegedly permitted creation of 1.7 million accounts by user who submitted birthdays indicating they were under 13” (MSNBC.com). The problem is that many adolescents do not yet grasp the danger that the internet can hold. Although nearly difficult to guarantee that underage users will put up photos and reveal their address, both Xanga and MySpace have taken further steps toward policing their grounds. Policing by the company is a good step, but adolescents should really learn how to do such things themselves. They need to understand the problems that come with passing out your phone number, address, and sexual status. Predators are everywhere and flock to social networking because they know they will find naïve youth there. Yet, there are other problems these young people need to be aware of and learn to detect – “flogs.” Fake blogs, or “flogs” are internet websites created with a “meat puppet” – a false person who is a front for the company behind the website (WashingtonPost.com). Similarly, “sock puppets” are when there is no picture to match the name of the blogger, but the company still is not up front. Various fake blogs have been produced in the past to promote different companies and goods. Wal-Mart, a company never known to have good means, is one such example of “flogging.” “The blogs Working Families for Wal-Mart and subsidiary site Paid Critics are written by three employees of PR firm Edelman, for whom Wal-Mart is a paid client” (CNNMoney.com). Underwriting other blogs as well, such advertising is intentionally disguised to mislead consumers. Blogs, however, are not the final stop for companies and their PR firms. Facebook, another social networking site, was manipulated by the company Ruckus. Creating a “meat-puppet” of Brody Ruckus and asking people to join his group and friend him, the company was then able to view profiles and steal private information. Many believe that those using such sites should use them with the knowledge that not everyone is trustworthy. Those who do realize this, detected Brody was fake and tried to highlight it for others. Groups on Facebook remain to this day that are dedicated to getting others to hate Brody Ruckus as well as the company for which Brody worked. This backlash may make companies check themselves on what is smart marketing and what is invasive and deceptive. So, should the companies be to blame or are the PR representatives more at fault for adverse reactions. Although the company will take the brute of the beating, the PR firm hurts, too. Mostly, however, the youth at home are the ones who are going to suffer.
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