Can social networks really be effectively segregated by various human attributes?

Or in other words: Can evil-doers be contained in their own social network? My short answer/opinion to this question is “Pffft…of course not! Dream on.”.

As a parent of a young gamer it scares the crap out of me to see my adolescent child wanting to participate in nifty social networks. Despite their efforts to protect kids from diabolical adults (or peers) posing as something they’re not, companies who offer social networks know there really is no bullet-proof method for fully protecting the good of the community by separating them from evil-doers and attempts in doing so can have adverse affects on quality sharing between social networks. Scoble’s podcast with Beth from Second Life is a great example and something I’d suggest parents check out (it’s pretty short).

In Skrocki-topia I wouldn’t have to worry about my child being exposed to diabolical characters disguised as friends. How great would it be to see our young people safely and freely collaborate and learn from others despite their differing cultures, proximities, etc.? But the reality is we live in a polluted world and every parent needs to set their own access dials for their kids. The Skrocki dials are at settings that hopefully balance the risks and benefits, but I’m sure they lean toward the conservative/limited side…

…which, sadly, means there will be missed opportunities.

  1. #1 by Ashish on July 12, 2006 - 9:29 am

    In programming terms the most critical problem is to “identify” what the evil means? In case of social networks, we can identify the intent of a person only if we can integrate the natural language to a set of rules and then invoke certain operations to block, seggregate, black list or even communicate to the authorities. Natural language is one of the most difficult problem to solve though.

  2. #2 by Mike Basten on August 9, 2006 - 8:48 am

    I definitely think there is a tight rope act between safety /privacy and getting information/communication out there… and is why we clung to the more cautious side I think though, that you are going to see these social networks evolve and serve a greater purpose… much like the web of the early days to now.

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