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Navigating the Online World

Social Networking

Social networking has become an integral part of the lives of millions of people. Facebook and Twitter are currently the most popular networks, but there are hundreds of different sites worldwide. All sites allow members to communicate directly with each other as well as to broadcast their posts. Many now include features that give users a variety of ways to communicate.

Social networking sites generally offer users the opportunity to create "privacy settings" that can limit access to their information. Utilizing privacy settings to keep walls around your information is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself online. Unless you restrict access to the information and photographs you post, they may be available for viewing by any members of the network. But even privacy settings aren't foolproof, and can change with little or no warning. Be wary about posting any content or images you wouldn't be comfortable sharing with a wider audience.

Blogs

Blogs, or Web logs, are sites where people post their thoughts and daily activities. Bloggers offer comments for anyone to read and visitors can respond by posting a reply. Visitors can read each other's comments and communicate directly with each other.

When you create a blog or join a social networking site, you open a window on your life. That is why it is important to make conscious, thoughtful decisions about what you reveal online. Avoid revealing too much information, or posting provocative content or photos. Comments or images that you post can come back to haunt you.

Protecting privacy and practicing good behavior online are important for adults, and they are even more important for young people.