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Young warned over social websites

Date 29 Nov 2007

Young people have been warned over providing too much personal information on social networking sites, and could even damage their future careers with what they post.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found more than half of those asked made most of their information public.

Some 71% of 2,000 14 to 21-year-olds said they would not want colleges or employers to do a web search on them before they had removed some material.

The ICO highlighted these potential problems while taking the opportunity once again to raise awareness that young people could be putting themselves at risk of identity fraud because of the material they post on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.

The data regulator's survey found that some 60% posted their date of birth, a quarter put their job title and almost one in 10 gave their home address.

ICO deputy commissioner David Smith said: "Many young people are posting content online without thinking about the electronic footprint they leave behind.

"The cost to a person's future can be very high if something undesirable is found by the increasing number of education institutions and employers using the internet as a tool to vet potential students or employees."

The ICO has launched a new website to help young people understand their information rights.

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