Social networking sites vary considerably in their policies concerning inappropriate content. Most popular sites are targeted at teens as well as adults, so they gear their policies appropriately. Other sites are unabashed in their tolerance for illicit content, stating in effect, “This is a site for adults and we don’t police content. Enter at your own risk.” At least with these sites you know where you stand and it’s easy to avoid them. For sites that establish family friendly standards and then consistently enforce them, it is also easy to feel like you know where you stand. Unfortunately, in many situations the stated policies and the behavior of the sites’ users stand in sharp contrast. In my view the companies managing the sites have an obligation to their users to clearly state their policies (which most do) and then strictly enforce their own policies (which most don’t).
Facebook is the most popular social networking site at the time of this writing, with the number two site being LinkedIn, a primarily professional network. Without offering up an unconditional endorsement, my experience is that Facebook is extremely tame, and LinkedIn is a great deal like a business conference (boring and efficient). Many of the other less popular social networking sites have a more significant adolescent or promiscuous slant, and it shows, especially in the now infamous, provocative, immodest, duck-face self-portraits taken with cell phone cameras that littered the profiles of sites like MySpace.