I am whatever YOU think I am until YOU get to KNOW me. This is true for everyone else too, of course.. so don't make assumptions about anyone or pass judgment; ask questions. You might just make a new friend.
This week Facebook will register its 500 millionth member. It's a milestone both significant and meaningless: yes, it's a reminder of just how big the social-media giant has become, but really—did we need reminding? That Facebook is a part of many Americans' daily lives is clear. But how it's affecting those lives is still being examined. We know that Facebook can begood for your health, and that it can make everything from networking to sharing photos easier. But there's also a potentially sinister side, even aside from dubious privacy issues. Below, 10 ways that Facebook can do more harm than good.
1. You'll be reunited with your biological parents. This can be good news, but it's not always. Take Prince Sagala, who found her biological children on Facebook—children she alleges were kidnapped more than a decade ago by her ex-husband. The mom and kids are now reunited. The only problem: the kids grew up with their dad and don't want anything to do with the parent who now has custody. And in an even more horrifying story, Aimee Sword was sentenced to nine to 30 years in prison recently for sexually abusing her 15-year-old biological son, whom she tracked down on Facebook.
4. Your ex can use it against you in a divorce. Facebook is a popular tool for divorce attorneys, who comb pages of their clients' spouses for evidence of neglect, infidelity, or deception. (One study suggests that Facebook comes up in one out of five new divorce petitions). Mashable says a woman lost custody of her children after her ex proved she was spending time tending her crops on Farmville instead of spending quality time with her kids, while divorce lawyers have given multipleinterviews extolling the site's virtues as a way to air damaging dirty laundry.
5. It could make you depressed. Researchers from Stony Brook University in New York found that teenage girls who spend the most time discussing their lives with friends were more likely to be depressed. Apparently, spending too much time dwelling on gossip and your problems can make you feel worse, not better. The researchers didn't study Facebook in particular, but they indicated that social-networking sites such as Facebook made it easier for people to be in constant contact with friends and perpetuate the unhealthy discussions.
6. It can cost you a job. A British survey of employers found that half of those polled had turned down job candidates once something unsavory about that candidate surfaced on Facebook. (Examples include tales of drunkenness, photos of illegal activity, and bad grammar.) In the U.S., 20 percent of employers admit to scoping out the Facebook pages of potential job candidates, while 9 percent say they're going to start soon.
8. It can make it easier for your stalker or abusive partner to follow your movements. Let's be honest: if there weren't Facebook, abusers would find another trigger to set off their rage. But Facebook has made it easier for these people to keep tabs on their victims and respond to their movements, even after the victim has tried to sever ties. In one particularly sad case, a woman who changed her Facebook status to "single" was killed by her husband, from whom she had separated. After seeing her status, he broke into her home and stabbed her repeatedly.
10. Your kids could be targeted by predators. After a teenage girl in England was murdered by a sex offender who posed as a teenager on Facebook, the British version of the site added a "panic button" that allows teens to report any unwanted attention—including cyber-bullying—directly to the authorities. But the button is not yet on U.S. or other international versions of Facebook, and it's unclear whether the company plans to add it.
Know of other examples? Leave them in the comments below.