(This post was originally posted on my old blog on 21/2/07)

Over the past few years there has been a great increase in social networking sites. I think it is wonderful way to connect to new and re-connect to old friends via these different sites. I personally have accounts on Myspace, Friendster, Facebook, schmooze to name a few. The reasons for joining the multiple sites have to do with various reasons but mostly due to the different friends on different sites.

As of right now I am seeing the darker side to the social networking world.

If you follow the US news, there has been a tremendous backlash against the social networking sites. A large point of contention is the accessibility pedophiles have with children via these sites. Recently a senator proposed a ban on social networking sites, Wikipedia, etc in schools and universities. As an adult I am wary of random strangers connecting to me via these sites. When I was a teenager and used AOL back the earlier days- I encountered pedophiles the via chat rooms. I am not as naive as I once was.

But I believe in the positive aspects of social networking sites and understand the dangers and risks of these sites. I have met and made new friends with individuals I would have never had the opportunity to meet or connect to without the help of these sites. Plus I have the ability to communicate to a larger audience in a much more timely fashion through these sites- and I can tell you planning a Thursday night out with the friends is much easier now.

But the biggest danger to the users of these sites are not only the pedophiles, stalkers but the users who chose to slander a person/people to a larger audience via these sites. These actions can cause tremendous psychological trauma to teenagers and adults alike. There are even cases of kids committing suicide based on what was happening in thier social networking life.

Recently I have come across a group where the founder of the group is using it to unleash his continuing barrage of insults directed at a specific person who is no longer in his daily life. The pretext of the group is to make fun in general but it is easy enough to understand who this is really directed at.

This groups exemplifies the darker side to social networking sites. My only wish is that the founders of groups like this one see clearly what they are doing and are not delusional about their intentions.

These sites were created to meet new people, talk to the friends you currently have, share information with each other but not slander and hurt others. There is an entire world out there and this is just one way of connecting to each other.