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Making Good Decisions Online – Part Three

From Making Good Decisions Online – Available online on Folio

It’s Not a Crime… Is It?

Protecting Intellectual Property

One of the great things about social networking sites is the power to share with friends and family all over the world. How would you feel if you shared a poem you had written on Facebook for your friend and it ended up being shared all over the world to lots of different people you don’t know. You might be flattered and pleased that so many people liked your poem and wanted to share it. You might feel cross that it was shared so often and you didn’t get any money or acknowledgment for it. How an individual might feel depends on that individual.

Many people believe that sites like Pinterest encourage the stealing of individuals’ intellectual property and perhaps cause loss of potential income. Wikipedia is a web-based, free encyclopedia that encourages sharing and collaboration of information. It is a very useful resource for information, but because it is a free content site that depends on individuals all around the world to keep the information current and updated, it can also disseminate incorrect and false information. While most articles will contain a degree of factual and researched information, they can also contain information that would be considered personal opinion rather than facts, references or specific expertise.

If you create something from scratch that is an original idea, then the idea is your intellectual property.


Copyright is a legal right that seeks to protect original works of authorship such as books, music, film and art. Generally, copyright protects ‘original expression’ such as words or images. It does not protect facts and ideas, although it may protect the original words or images used to describe an idea. Copyright also doesn’t protect things like names, titles andslogans – however, another legal right called a trademark may protect those.

Why Do We Do It?

Do you know the difference between a proponent and an opponent?

Proponents of social networking sites will tell you that online communities promote increased interaction with friends and family – anywhere, anytime – that they offer individuals valuable access to global information; facilitate social and political change; and disseminate useful information fast and efficiently.

Opponents of social networking believe that the sites prevent or deter face-to-face communication; encourage individuals to waste time on activities that do not matter; expose users to predatory people; and spread false and sometimes dangerous information.

Pros of Social networking sites

Cons of social networking sites

Spread information faster than any other media. Over 50 percent of people today learn about breaking news on social media.

Spreads unreliable and false information. 49.1 percent of people have heard false news via social media.

Social networking sites help students do better at school. 59 percent of students with access to the Internet report they use social networking sites to discuss educational topics and school assignments.

Students who are heavy social media users tend to have lower grades. Two thirds of teachers surveyed in the United States believe social media is a distraction, not an educational tool.

Social media helps to grow businesses because they help businesses to connect locally and globally with customers.

Social media encourages people at work to waste time instead of working.

Social networking helps people to facilitate face-to-face interaction by helping set up introductions and meetings.

Social networking encourages people to talk online and never get around to actually meeting in person. People can suffer from social isolation.

Social networking facilitates political and social change by giving organisations a quick, no or low-cost method to organise, disseminate information and gather people together for rallies etc.

Social networking facilitates cyberbullying and harassment. People are happy to say nasty things online that they might never say in real life.

But, What Should I Do?

The truth is that the world we live in today communicates quite differently from any other time in history. As you grow older, usually at around the age of 13 you will need to start thinking about and making decisions around what social media you will use. Will you use Twitter and Instagram, run a Facebook account or post on YouTube? You may well have started already by interacting with friends online by texting or Snapchatting.

Online connections are really integral to the social lives of pre-teens, teens and adults, but understand that along with the benefits come risks. There is a lot of information online and available at school about keeping yourself safe online and it is a good idea to pay attention to what is being said about cybersafety.

You need to remember that everything you do online stays online for others to see to data mine from. Even if you have pushed delete on a photo or a comment and it disappears from your device, it’s out there in a server somewhere.

Geotagging can be a wonderful feature on the Internet because it allows people to know where you took a picture or where you were. But, be aware that there is a darker side to geotagging. Unfriendly people can stalk you and track your life if you make use of public geotagging information to pinpoint your location, home, or school.

Use Your Common Sense!

Chat sites, social networking sites, blogs – they're all pretty cool places to hang in cyberspace. Who wouldn't be tempted to spend time in a new hot site where you can share opinions and music files and communicate with interesting new friends? The problem is that as wonderful as the Internet is, it's just a reflection of society – the good and the bad. Nearly 60 percent of teens online say they have received an instant message or email from a stranger, and 50 percent of them say they have exchanged emails or instant messages with someone they never met.

When you let your fingers do the talking, use the filter between your ears and remember – Internet safety. NEVER give personal information to anyone you have not met in person. NEVER agree to meet someone you have only met online. It’s just common sense! Choose your screen name carefully – think about how your screen name might be interpreted. You would be very careful about talking to a stranger on the street; be just as careful of who you’re letting onto the screen in your house!

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