Social media often gets a bad reputation. If sharing cat pictures and playing online games are your thing, that’s fine. But you can also use social media to find relevant news and information, starting with your friends. While search is mostly anonymous—though search engines do track your searches and can attach your search history to your personal profile, if you let them—the Social Web is definitely not anonymous. Once you sign up for a social media service, you are open to some degree of public scrutiny, though each service allows for some privacy controls. Before you embrace social media, make sure that you understand what is public and what is private. You should always be cautious with information like your personal phone number, home address and information about your family and children. You should also figure out how you want to use social networking and not get carried away with it. Some people have actually become addicted to social networking.
That said, the social web is a powerful tool on the internet. Sites like Twitter and Facebook make it very easy to share information and links to stories, music and videos with your friends and followers. And they make it easy to find news and information. Watch the overview to using the social web for news and information to the right and then think about ways you might use social media in your media diet.
Companies large and small are increasingly using social media for advertising as well. When you read a message on Facebook or Twitter, be aware of its origin and ask yourself the questions you learned in Lesson 3.
If you are ready to start using social media, go to Twitter.com, Facebook.com, Tumblr.com, Pinterest.com, LinkedIn.com or any other site that you like and start an account. Then post a link to this training (use the hashtag #idmediaonline on Twitter). Thanks for sharing!