SOCIAL networking sites.
That is a term that we have all become very familiar with these days. We all know where it has come from but few know where it is headed to.
Social media has its very popular and useful side, but also its very dark side.
With the world getting "smaller" by the day (the latest prediction is a flight to the UK will be about four hours in the future) thanks, in no small part, to social media, is it any wonder that we have taken to technology like a duck to water?
Who hasn't these days used one of the many social networking sites available, such as Facebook or Twitter?
Keeping in touch with the family in another continent or part of the world is now as easy as turning on your tablet and connecting to the world. Literally.
You can connect from anywhere nowadays for a very small cost or even free, using any suitable device.
Skyping is another well-known outlet, which has been put to very good use over the years. With the prediction that texting has reached its peak usage, I suspect new and more innovative ways to connect worldwide are just around the corner.
However, as most of us know, there is also a very dark side to these social networking sites, sadly. If you haven't experienced it yourself, take it from me there is.
A few years ago, an out-of-town businessman went to town on me, publishing blatant and outright lies online.
I am forever thankful to some in the local business fraternity for their help over this matter.
I was left in a quandary as to what I should do about it. The advice I was given was to simply do nothing which, as it turned out, was the best advice as it basically shut the thing down entirely with no "official police response forthcoming".
Social networking sites now have lots of inappropriate photos, comments that are untrue and/or misleading and in some cases insulting, threatening and/or defamatory, which have been published by users.
So what can be done about it, I asked myself recently?
Firstly, you have to be sure the comments are in the above category. Once you establish that, complain to the media outlet concerned and take your chances. Do not hold your breath in the meantime. You will get success in the end, especially if you have all your ducks lined up in a row, as I did. In other words, have excellent grounds for complaining, if not, forget the idea and get over it.
Another suggestion is simply ignore the material/photos or whatever it is that concerns you, as the more you delve into the matter, the bigger the head of steam you may make for yourself. As the saying goes - get over it and move on.
On the other side of the debate, if you are contemplating besmirching someone in a social networking site, try looking at it from another angle and ask yourself: "If it was me the material was being published about, would I still proceed?" If the answer is no, then don't publish material about someone else.
If you decide to go ahead and publish, then put your name to it rather than being a coward and remaining anonymous. There is one word for doing that.
Don't forget, you can also end up in another forum where you will be held to account and maybe denounced and penalised for your actions.
Ring 0800 Crimestoppers (0800 555 111) for giving anonymous information.