Dr. Carrie Fitzpatrick is frequently amazed at the private details she sees people share on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. "I’m shocked almost on a daily basis by what people put out there," said Fitzpatrick, an Alvernia University assistant professor of communications and English. But while that oversharing can be risky, Fitzpatrick believes that if such sites were used more carefully, their benefits would outweigh the drawbacks. "They are where everybody congregates now, so I reluctantly embrace them," she said. Dr. Timothy O’Boyle hardly uses the sites, but sees how they benefit students at Kutztown University, where he is an associate professor of sociology. "A lot of people feel the sites are replacing face-to-face interaction, but they’re just an addition. And for some, they’re a wonderful addition," he said. Others see more cons than pros. That’s especially true for teens, who might not understand the dangers of sharing personal details so publicly, said Dr. Avidan Milevsky, a KU associate professor of psychology. Some arguments for and against the sites:
* They allow those who are shy or have trouble making friends to socialize more easily. That’s also true for those with disabilities. * They provide another option for those looking to date but are unable to find the right person. * They allow those with similar interests to connect and converse. * They allow professionals to network more easily.
* They allow businesses and public entities to share information with customers and clients, and to market themselves inexpensively. * They allow people to reacquaint with old friends or those who live far away. * They allow for grass-roots causes to organize, recruit new members and spread their messages. Cons
* They give hackers an opportunity to steal and misuse personal information, especially if users don’t correctly install privacy filters. And even with those safeguards, posted information is never...
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