Weighing in on social networks

By Amanda Ward - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Millions of people are logging on to Facebook and MySpace every minute, while millions more are tweeting their every move. While the world becomes easier and easier to communicate with one another, what are the risks of opening your personal lives to the world?

Besides the fact that they play great music, local band, Ashes of Babylon, partially credits the social networking site, MySpace, for their rising fame (also check out their website).

"MySpace is a great way for us to promote our shows, our CD and our band in general. We can keep people up to date and we've had a lot of opportunities to make that happen," said Jacob Krenshaw, tenor sax and vocals for Ashes of Babylon.

Opportunities like being invited to play for the New Orleans Hornets preshow.

"An intern from the Hornets heard our music, showed it to who needed to hear it and they contacted us. MySpace really made it happen," said Krenshaw.

It's done much the same for several local musicians, artists, photographers, etc., but while they reap the benefits of social networking online, some may ultimately pay the price.

Dean of Students at McNeese State Univeristy, Toby Osburn, agrees there are benefits of sites like Facebook and MySpace and admits the university uses them to communicate with students. But he also has this warning.

"We know employers are looking at Facebook and MySpace, and maybe considering making job offers to perspective employees. We know they're doing that. We hear feedback from time to time that they opt to not make offers because of things that they've seen," said Osburn.

Posting racey photographs or obscene messages can affect students before they attempt to enter the work force. Some have lost scholarships.

"You have to remember, when institutions make scholarship offers, they're not merely looking at your academic criteria or your athletic ability. They also have some subjective elements when they give scholarships where they get to decide whether or not you are a person of good character," he said.

There are also warnings for the thousands of children who are far from the university level and don't know what they post could change their lives.

"There are a lot of folks who are letting their middle school children set up Facebook or MySpace with virtually no supervision or oversight whatsoever. That is very, very dangerous, because that information out there in the hands of a sexual predator or of some other criminal element, could be devastating for the child and the family," said Osburn, who's also a parent of two young girls.