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Facebook is a social networking website launched in February 2004 that is

operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc., with more than 500 million active
users in July 2010. . Facebook was founded by a 24 year-old Harvard student, Mark
Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow computer science students. The
website's membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but
was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford
University. It gradually opened to students at other universities and than high school,
and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over. If Facebook discovers a user under 13, they
will delete the profile. The name, Facebook was borrowed from a product produced by
Zuckerberg's prep school, Phillips Exeter Academy, which for decades published and
distributed a printed manual of all students and faculty, unofficially called the "face

Facebook has met with some controversy. It has been blocked intermittently in
several countries including China and Vietnam. It has also been banned at many places
of work to discourage employees from wasting time using the service.

Facebook is an online website designed to allow people to express themselves

through their own personal web page. Many people use it to keep in touch with friends
and family. Facebook enables us to share information on music, writings, hobbies, fun
clean jokes and photos. It sounds relatively harmless. However, it is obvious that
teenagers are susceptible to several dangers. One of them involves their emotional
well-being. Teenagers use it as a venue to ridicule, humiliate, threaten, and harass
other teenagers. In fact, an individual doesn't have to be physically domineering to be a
bully these days. Facebook has helped create a new generation of cyber bullies. These
bullies realize they don't have to interact with their victims personally, and therefore
don't receive immediate consequences to their actions. However, what they fail to

realize is that gradually, these harmful attacks add to the pent up rage of a victim.
These victims may eventually retaliate violently in a real setting.

Other concerns are the addictive nature of Facebook and the shift into this
world of virtual reality friendships. You're a Facebook addict when,

1. You lose sleep over Facebook

If you are staying up late at night because you are on Facebook, and you are tired the
next day, Facebook may be a compulsion for you. You shouldn't be neglecting
yourself because of Facebook.

2. You spend more than an hour a day on Facebook

3. You ignore work or studies in favour of Facebook

4. The thought of getting off Facebook leaves you in a cold sweat

Psychologists are concerned that it reflects the breakdown of more traditional

forms of community. For example, studies have shown that in countries where family ties
remain strong - in Italy and Spain, for example - social networking sites has far less
appeal. The problem is that communication through keyboard alone is limiting as humans
rely on facial expression, tone and touch to convey deeper emotions. As a result, these
online friendships rarely progress well.

Moreover, opening oneself up and laying one's emotions on the line with people
who are effectively strangers is not without risk, because it is simple for pranksters to
create a false profile behind which they can hide. You may have poured out your heart to
someone who may turn out to be someone quite different. Once they have heard your
troubles, they will turn round and laugh at you. It has left people feeling very hurt and
even tipped some over into depression. To avoid this, it is best to treat Facebook like a
"game" - not to take it too seriously, and remember that true friendships are best nurtured

Unaware of the dangers, most teenagers share personal information online. 50%
of European teenagers give out personal information on the web according to an EU
study, which can remain online forever and can be seen by anybody. Hence, 9
February 2010 was designated to be the “Safer Internet Day”, the European
Commission is passing a message to teenagers: "Think before you post!"

Fortunately, 91% of kids and teens who have a profile on a site such as
Facebook use it only to keep in touch with friends they see in person. Very few teens
are using social networking sites to meet new people. While these numbers seem
encouraging, they may give you a false sense of security, leading you to post personal
information in your profile. Although the danger of posting personal information on
the Web may be obvious, some tend to be naive about the potential risks. According to, more than half of high school students surveyed have given out personal
information to someone they have met only online. If privacy settings are not activated
to restrict who can view your profile, the Internet connects you to the whole world.
Posting an address or cell phone number increases the risk of a host of dangerous
situations. You may think you are only supplying your phone number so that your
friends know how reach you offline, but you may also be supplying your phone
number to online predators. According to, 20% of high school students
surveyed admitted to meeting face-to-face with someone they knew only from the

Facebook frequently has bulletins from so-called "friends" which encourage

people to put their personal information out there on surveys. Sure, they may seem fun
to do when you get bored, and they may seem harmless but they can be perfect for a
predator to use to compile information on you right before they move in for the kill. It
is easy for scammers to get information on you and your family if they can get things
such as your parent’s name, birth date, address and other sensitive information.

Strangers trying to befriend teenagers online have become a very real threat in
Malaysia, a recent survey has revealed. The threat is higher than the global average.
Many of the strangers even try to meet up with them offline, said the Norton Online
Family Report 2010.

Up to 72 per cent of teenagers polled have had strangers trying to add them as
friends on Facebook and 27 per cent of them say someone they don’t know has tried to
meet them in the real world. The global average is only 10 per cent. The report was
based on a research conducted by an independent research firm on behalf of Symantec
Corporation. The survey also revealed that teenagers were spending an average of 19
hours a week online. The reality is about 25 per cent of teenagers talk to strangers
online, leaving them exposed to potential online and offline danger.

The important thing to know is that the problem is not the site. It is the way it is
used. Be selective about what you post and what games you play as they can be
viewable by others. Once something is posted, it is out of your hands. It will be in the
cyberworld forever and could come back to haunt you in later years. Learn to be safe
and responsible on or offline. If used responsibly, Facebook can be a useful, fun tool to
stay in touch with friends.

By : Sarah Fong (4 Faraday)