The social media can be a great place to have great discussions, collect information, work, meet people and relax; however, regardless of the nature of one's social media use, one should mind what is posted there because we never know who is watching.
Blog Bloke says that the main purpose of the social media (SM) is to connect people. Although I agree, I also wonder whether it wouldn't be best for individuals to connect with people they have had some sort of previous rapport (be it personal, professional or through blogging, for instance), because as fun as the social media may be, it can also become a dangerous place - especially when users over-expose themselves.
Thinking of the social media from a security point of view is capital.
This article is not to be understood as a promotion to paranoia; but as an advice that people should take heed of what sort of "friends/followers" might be reading their opinions, feelings, habits (e.g. what they eat) and their personal information (e.g. birthdays, phone number, address); looking at their photos (of themselves, their children, family, house, car, their neighbourhood, workplace etc) and building a solid profile on them and their family.
There are accounts of social media users that have been robbed after having shared online that at X time they'd leave the house, to go to Y place and do Z. There are others that have been suffering humiliation and lost their jobs because of what they post online - since they fall for the psychology of the "Friends" epithet, they never count on whom may be following their activity online and with which intent.
The above mentioned may seem daunting but not as much as what we are about to discuss: paedophilia and kidnappings.
Paedophiles on the lurk
If you are a parent, you should be very careful about posting photos of your children. Sharing them with family is acceptable because the risk is reduced (and if something would happen it would help to narrow a list of suspects); however, sharing your offspring's pictures with a bunch of strangers (in an non-controlled environment) is asking for troubles.
Paedophiles surf the web in search of "children to love". They will befriend or follow you online; they will build a profile of your children; they will select one (according to his, or his network's, needs) and focus on him/her. Then, they will find ways to steal your child - and these paedophilic scouters do not even need to live near you, or be in your country - given their world wide network, all they have to do is hunt online.
Kidnapping: a game of opportunity
Pascal Michel, director international services at Result Group, says that "Kidnappers use social networks and the Internet not only to select their victims and for reconnaissance purposes, but also in order to make contact with potential victims – frequently by means of social engineering."
(NB: social engineering = psychological manipulation of individuals to lead them to divulge personal or confidential information)
If you are a person of wealth (or of relative wealth), or with a particular status, you should be apprehensive about your offspring's and relatives' use of the social media; because (unlike paedophiles who target children from any social stratum) kidnappers are more likely to target your family and, to that end, they will navigate through the social media with the sole aim of obtaining as much information as possible.
"The kidnapping of the son of company founder Evgeny Karpersky in Russia is one notable example. Using the Russian counterpart of Facebook, the kidnappers gathered information about the victim such as his current photo, the address of his apartment, and details of where he was completing his internship. This method minimised the need for risky, physical surveillance." (Pascal Michel)
Individuals should not make it easier for criminals to snatch their relatives, burglar their home etc. They should bear in mind that felons today will use every single piece of detail people provide to attack them; therefore the amount of personal information that is shared in the SM should be controlled.
Keeping yourself, and your family, safe is paramount.