Everybody loves the new social networking sites. Facebook, MySpace, Linked-In and others have become a part of the day-to-day lives of millions. Simply sign up, create a nice profile, and enjoy the open communication. It gives a whole new meaning to the song, “It’s a small world after all.”

It all has to do with the profile. These sites disply a user’s birthday. A person can upload an actual picture of his or herself. The profile builder also asks about education, employment, favorite books and movies, and much more. This process condenses friend finding into a science of matching one’s profile with other similar profiles. It all sounds so simple.

Family can make awesome use of these sites to stay in touch and share events and photos. Friends often locate each other after several years of separation. Oh how sweet it is to find someone after several years. Old school mates track down pals from the past because of the education features. Even prospective employers can have a look in order to see what kind of person they might be hiring. All of this is awesome, this uniting of family and friends, and this extra boost for the employment issue.

But there is more. What if the one doing the looking is not the good guy? Within these systems there is nothing to prevent a sex offender from joining and finding new friends. An abusive spouse can locate and continue to torment with the help of cyberspace. A foreign spy could learn lots just by being friends with an American soldier. One needs to use caution in choosing who to friends request out there.

Social networking site technology has brought with it both open communication and danger. Consumers need to be aware as they create profiles all over the net. Never allow teenagers or kids to post private and contact information online.