[Albert Mohler] 7 Feb 2009--Facebook marked its fifth anniversary on February 5, setting a milestone for social networking as a cultural phenomenon. Just five years ago Harvard undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg launched the site and service. Just as Facebook celebrated its fifth anniversary, it passed rival MySpace in registrations.
Together, MySpace and Facebook report over 280,000,000 registered users. Those services, first popular among high school and college students, are now joined by Twitter, a micro-blogging service. Together, these represent nothing less than a major social movement.
Social networking differs from other Internet services by creating a virtual community of linked users, whose updates, photographs, and postings allow for communication anytime and anywhere.
Today's student generation, the "Digital Natives," know of no existence before cell phones, the Internet, e-mail, and text messaging. Social networking perfectly fits their lifestyle and worldview. They assume 24/7 social contact -- or at least access to this contact just a few clicks away.
Social networking is like any new technology. It must be evaluated on the basis of its moral impact as well as its technological utility. Social networking sites offer unprecedented opportunities for communication and contact -- and that is both the promise and the peril of the technology.
Here are a few suggestions for safeguarding the social networking experience: