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Issue 2 - March 1, 2010 enews home

Facebook the 'pub without the punch-ups', says academic

Most people who engage in controversial debate on social networking sites do so because they feel safer behind a PC than in the front bar, says a Northern Territory academic

Most people who engage in controversial debate on social networking sites do so because they feel safer behind a PC than in the front bar, says a Northern Territory academic

By Jason McIntosh

Most people who engage in controversial debate on social networking sites do so because they feel safer behind a PC than in the front bar, says a Northern Territory academic.

Charles Darwin University Psychology lecturer, Dr Peter Forster said social networking sites have taken on a role as powerful social indicators, as mainstream Australia signs-up and shares views about the hot topics of the day.

"Alice Springs' woes are for all to see on a Facebook page where you have a site with hundreds of people prepared to put their name up as members or commentators," he said.

Dr Forster said the local pub was still a hotbed of debate, but online social networking sites such as Facebook, Buzz and Twitter convinced people to share opinions and personal information that they would never do in person.

“And in doing so, people will write comments they later find deeply embarrassing,” he said.

Dr Forster said on-line contributors needed to think carefully about their published comments.

"If you say something stupid or offensive it could be a hangover for life," he said.