GUEST POST: By Pierce Hacking of catharsis of pierce and Mindwaste Social networking Sites (SNS) are the big craze sweeping through the internet. They have been around for a number of years but have had a surge in popularity in recent time, notably the sites Twitter and Facebook, while Myspace still has its own active following. These sites allow people all across the world to connect with each other, for people to meet future spouses, for family members to become reconnected, and to allow kids to keep in touch with graduating classmates. These three sites in particular are predominant on the internet as the top social networking sites, but all three have problems, bugs, and glitches that need to be worked on. If a perfect social networking site existed, all three of these sites would be obsolete.
Facebook is the most popular SNS according to a complete.com survey, but despite the mass amount of users on this site it has many bugs and problems. Any time a user wants to add an application for its site it must be clicked several times with the “are you sure you want to do this” line. There have been applications made which have hacked into face book accounts or tried to steal personal information. If sites really care about these issues the solution is very simple. Keep the applications that everybody loves, but don’t allow for random people to create them. Sites should hire people to specifically develop applications that fit their users’ wants or needs. If restrictions were set and the sites made the applications themselves based on suggestions from the users, then a majority of complaints about the use of applications would be nonexistent.
Privacy is a major issue when it comes to Facebook and Myspace. When users connect with each other they go to others’ personal profiles. People may render their profile as private and block them from being viewed unless an accepted friend is viewing them. This doesn’t always work, however, as Myspace and Facebook still allow for people to see the default picture of whomever’s site their viewing. Myspace even allows for some basic information to be viewed such as age, location, and a personal headline. Myspace has done work in trying to prevent internet crimes caused through people connecting through its own site and through other social networking sites but it is not enough. Instead of a just needing a person’s name to add their profile, why not just set it so that knowledge of an email address is REQUIRED instead of an optional setting to add someone as a friend. SNS’ require an email address to create an account and profile, so why not require them to be known by others before allowing them to be added. This way online predators wouldn’t be able to simply add random, stupid kids who accept every friend request, because they’d actually have to know personal information already that they don’t have access to. Also, if the sites want to be very active, they should require any sex offender who has a profile on their site to register, similarly to how they must do so in their community for others to know. The offenders’ sites would then be marked by some sort of logo or sign to allow people to know of a threat.
Another thing Twitter could do to make itself better would be a slight extension of the character limit used in posting. Anything posted on twitter must be within 140 characters, which makes it a pain to use a tinyurl site or program to share web links, and also to get a complete thought out sometimes. An extension of characters to 200 from 140 would allow for an extra sentence or two to be formulated to help cut down on unnecessarily long conversations. Twitter could retain its basic form but just give people a little more space to vent or associate with others.
A massive problem for every SNS is the amount of spammers who flock to them. Twitter has a ridiculous amount of spam accounts filled with links to harmful sites or porn. Twitter’s registration process is simply an email address, password, and a name. Though the site is getting better in stopping people from impersonating as celebrities, it’s doing a horrible job in preventing spam. Any one who makes their profile public and unprotected can be followed by anyone, including spammers. Twitter needs to expand the requirements in making an account if it wants to give people so much independence in what they write. It may sound a little extreme, but if a name and email are all that are required to sign up, Twitter should ban email addresses from notorious spammer-filled web-mail hosts. Twitter should also require more personal information in creating an account that could be looked up by a background check, or it should at least have a strict age limitation so that youth are not subjected to the spam, malware, and porn.
Basically, it is not very hard to create an ideal SNS. These sites are close to achieving ideal status in their accessibility, mainstream use (through advertisements, I-pod applications, phone applications), and work towards privacy and protection. Just by following these simple suggestions alone they would be significantly closer to that goal of being an ideal site. There are many other problems with the sites of course, that I have not gone into detail about, (such as how easy it is to use easter eggs on Facebook, or the constant oops something’s wrong server crashes of Myspace and Twitter) but you can leave it up to yourselves to rant about those. The fact remains, these websites have been around for several years, and are finally profiting, (In September, 2009 Facebook reported the first positive cash flow in its history) so work must be done to make them safer, more accessible, and easier to use.
Disclosure This post may or may not reflect some or part of the ideas and thoughts of alpha1beta.com. the article was written for free as a guest post in hopes of exposing the lack of a halfway decent Social networking site existing.