Facebook, Myspace users fear 'media intrusion'

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London, June 5 : While social networking sites, like Orkut, Facebook and Myspace, have readers posting all sorts of personal details online, a large number of young users insist that they would be more watchful before putting such content online if they knew the media might use them, says a new poll.

In fact, 80 percent of social networking site users have said that they would be more careful about the details as they do not know that the media might use it.

According to a poll of 1,000 people conducted by Ipsos-Mori for the Press Complaints Commission, the publishing industry's self-regulating watchdog, 89 percent of social networking site users demanded guidelines on what the media could use.

The poll suggested that 51 percent of Internet users belong to social networking sites. Also, it revealed that 42 percent of 16 to 24-year-old users of such websites claimed that they knew someone who had a bad experience after his personal material was posted online without consent.

However, the PCC is initiating talks to discuss the measures that should be taken to counter the issue.

Sir Christopher Meyer, PCC chairman, said that there is an unprecedented increase in personal information being put into the public domain, and this had severe ramifications for the regulation of media outlets.

"This clearly has implications for the PCC, which has always had the task of deciding where to draw the boundaries between what newspapers and magazines may legitimately publish and what can rightly be considered private. The challenge remains the same for online editorial content, including material taken from social networking sites," The BBC quoted him, as saying.

He also said that there are also wide-ranging cultural and other issues that go beyond the PCC.

He added: "In the digital age, self-regulation, with its sound principles and speed of operation, has never been more relevant."

The poll indicated the majority of users saying that if guidelines are provided on what type of information the media could use, it would give a tool in the hands of the people, so that they could complain if the information published about them was wrong or intrusive. In addition, the poll found that 49 percent of respondents considered it wrong on the part of the media to use personal information available online without asking the consent of the person concerned. Also, 58 percent were found to be fairly or very concerned about the lack of control on the way they were depicted on websites.

In fact, 55 percent of social networking site members were seriously thinking about posting personal details such as photos, for the fear that they might be used by someone else without their consent.

According to Sir Christopher, PCC's current code of practice may adequately handle complaints about media outlets using material taken from networking sites.

However, he said: "There are wider cultural and other issues going beyond the PCC to be debated, which is why we have taken the initiative of conducting the survey."

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