Nobody can deny that the past few months have seen an explosion in the popularity of social networking sites. Catapulting to the top of the list is Facebook, a self-proclaiming "social utility that connects you with the people around you."
It sounds harmless enough, but underneath the fun applications and fun-wall messages lies a networking site where information about other is easily and anonymously obtainable.
Like all networking sites you must create a profile in order to become a member. Herein lie two problems. Firstly, many people add too much personal information about themselves without limiting who can view their profile.
It is not made clear that unless you specifically select to limit your profile to people on your friends list, anyone can access information such as your telephone number, email address and place of work, let alone your personal home address.
Secondly, even if you deactivate your account (as it is impossible to un-register yourself), your information is not deleted from the system, and therefore is still accessible. There have been many cases recently where people have campaigned to have their details removed, but to no avail.
On a less serious note, it is possible to add photographs of anyone and everyone, tagging them so people know who they are, without their permission. It is then up to the individual who added the photos to decide whether or not they wish to remove them.
It might seem as if this does not constitute a problem, but when more and more potential employers access social networking sites to assess potential employees it is not a good idea to have hundreds of drunken photos with your name on.
Finally, the "wall" facility on facebook profile pages allows friends (or indeed strangers) to leave messages which remain in view on the wall unless deleted. This could lead to people knowing intimate details about what you got up to over the weekend, or your plans for the next.
Obviously, there are positive aspects to these sites. You can catch up with friends, check out their photos, and find friends you might have lost touch with. Just bear in mind that if you leave your profile open to anyone, you will never know exactly who knows what about you.