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Using caution with social networking sites could help save ‘face’

Facebook ruins lives. If you aren’t familiar with the online social networking website, then you have no idea what 120 million users worldwide have been going crazy about.

Created by Harvard students as a tool to connect with colleagues in their community, the website became increasingly popular among U.S. college students and now allows anybody to join.

Millions of people use Facebook every day to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited amount of photos, share videos and links, edit their profiles and do one more thing — snoop.

Of course, nobody likes to admit it, but it is nearly impossible not to notice and read other people’s posts and personal comments, especially if enticing photos that practically jump off the screen accompany them.

I’d like to remind you of the popular phrase, “It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.”

That’s exactly how it played out for Kristin O’Neill, a financial worker from Massachusetts, as a recent article in the Boston Globe explained. O’Neill created an account after hearing about the site’s popularity from her boyfriend and friends, and that’s when her life played out like a “bad Lifetime channel movie.”

O’Neill discovered that her boyfriend of two years had created two separate profiles and was virtually living a double life. What a shocker, right? Well, not quite.

Since Facebook has made some changes to its privacy and security settings, and allows users to join multiple networks organized by city, school, workplace and region, it is very easy for one to take on the role of whoever they would like to be — like living a fantasy life through chat with strangers.

So, it’s no surprise that anybody can pull off having two different pages containing contradictory information. But beware that sooner or later it will catch up with you.

Users can see nearly all personal information that a person provides including address, contact numbers, birth date, school and course schedule, place of business, political and religious views, relationship standing and even online status.

When browsing your significant other’s page, all it usually takes is a couple clicks to see what they have been up to and who they’re talking to. This could be rather beneficial, but be prepared for what may possibly be uncovered.

Like O’Neill, you could be coming across salacious comments and photos, flirty behavior and other things you would never approve of.

I suppose Facebook should not be blamed for your partner’s indecent behavior, if exposed, but the website is guilty of providing you strong motive to snoop, simply because it is so easy to do so.

If you do have a profile, or are thinking of joining the online community, make sure to use good judgment in the information you make available to other users. Nobody needs to know your Social Security number, for instance, to have a better understanding of who you are.

And, it’s probably best to keep your love life off of the Internet, altogether, to avoid potential heartbreak.

Don’t let Facebook make a victim out of you. If it does, however, there are online forums — such as one titled “Facebook Ruins People’s Lives” — that can help.

Chelsey Finegan is a senior journalism major and a staff writer for the Daily Forty-Niner.

One Comment

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    Tell me about it. There’s a whole dark side to the Internet that the author didn’t discuss, and I guess it’s better left alone. Some of those who publish damaging information or not-work-safe photos that can hurt their character and post it via MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites often get ridiculed by that “dark side”. They need to learn to be careful and know their privacy.

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