The Joongang Daily has an interesting article today dealing with the problems of security on social networking sites in Korea. It quotes a Facebook representative in Korea as saying that Koreans have a relatively low awareness of social network security. I would suggest that this is part of the broader cultural differences in thinking about and using social networking sites, as discussed in earlier posts. Cyworld is dramatically different from Facebook with the latter being introduced over four years later in the U.S.
According to eMarketer, 61.4 percent of Internet users worldwide have an SNS account, up from 51.4 percent in 2009 and 45.1 percent in 2008. And it turns out that people spend more time on social media Web sites than they do e-mailing or Web surfing. Those surveyed spent 4.6 hours a week on SNS sites, compared to 4.4 hours for e-mail. Here in Korea, according to the Korea Communications Commission, 65.7 percent of the population uses SNS sites.
The article notes that the very concept of social networking is about sharing personal information. However, there are limits, as most people would not want credit card or certain employment-related information publicized over the internet. In Korea, as shown by the accompanying graphic, Cyworld is still the most popular "social networking" web site (click on graphic to see a larger version).
Online attacks have been a common occurrence in Korea, with the most famous being “dog poop girl.” In 2005, a photo of a girl who left the subway train without picking up her dog’s waste was spread on the Internet. Korean netizens revealed her identity as well as her school, and she ended up dropping out in disgrace.
Although the graphic in this post shows the current dominance of Cyworld, it should be noted that Facebook and Twitter are experiencing much more rapid growth with the booming growth of mobile broadband and smartphones. This all amounts to many future challenges for Korean consumers, the government and the legal system here as South Korea adjusts to the realities and the security risks of social networking.