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Securing the Social Network

New Flingr social networking site is billed to be more secure than MySpace - but do its users really care?

5:30 PM -- I checked out Flingr.com today, a new social networking site that touts security and privacy for its users as well as new features such as tableless design and compression on its homepage. Judging from the group of "new users" featured there, I doubt security is the chief reason why the site is so hot.

There was Jessica, "FoRgEt Me...ItS tHaT sImPlE," female, 19, with that "come-hither" MySpace-looking pose (eyes cast to the side, not facing the camera and one lock of bleached-blonde hair slightly covering her face), Aquarius, straight, likes swimming, canoeing, partying hanging out with the guys and sometimes tanning. Jessica had a grand total of two comments ("hey BOO!") and zero blog posts.

Then there's +DAVE+ from Portland, Maine, 26, Leo, atheist, who's "not social" but is now a member of a social networking site. +DAVE+ had a couple of propositions from a chick in a blurry photo, but no blog posts, etc.

A Dark Reading message board reader with the alias "Scythe" (no Zodiac sign included) turned me on to Flingr, which, according to Scythe, uses cross-site scripting filtering and limits flash objects to "trusted" services. That sounds promising for ultimately securing these types of sites, which are increasingly becoming targets of attack. (See Social Networking Gone Bad.)

Unlike the popular LinkedIn, Flingr isn't a businessperson's social net -- it's supposed to compete head-on with MySpace. But the question remains: Do members of Flingr and MySpace really understand or care about security and Web 2.0 features? I'd be willing to bet that their parents -- if they even know about their sites -- care a good deal. So far, however, new members Jessica and +DAVE+ don't look any more sophisticated or savvy than some of their counterparts at MySpace. Will a safer social net really sell to this type of user?

Oh, and I'm still not clear on the significance of "flingr," either. It could be a spin on "fling," "linger" or some "f" word reference. Guess I'll ping my new Flingr friend Jessica.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

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