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Facebook Predators

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/facebookpr_1446.mp3

Law enforcement officials say college students are putting too much personal information on the web.

And, while most users think websites like Facebook are all fun and games, experts say you never know who could be looking.

Law enforcement officials say college students are putting too much personal information on the web.

And, while most users think websites like Facebook are all fun and games, experts say you never know who could be looking.

KSMU's Matt Petcoff has the story of one Missouri State University student who found out that trouble could be right next door...

Stephanie is a sophomore Elementary Education major at Missouri State.

She says she recently joined a sorority, enjoys hanging out with her friends and even works the front desk at her dorm.

Stephanie says she learned about Facebook from some friends at the University of Missouri...It's a website for social networking where college students can create profiles with fun pictures and interesting information about themselves.

She says she thought it was a little weird at first...and even wondered if it could be a resource for stalkers, but she became more comfortable with the idea after awhile...

So, just like thousands of other college students, Stephanie joined Facebook and posted information about herself on the website.

She says what she liked best about Facebook was being able to look up classmates.

But, then one day, Stephanie says she was at her computer when she received a message from someone she didn't know.

Stephanie says she immediately blocked the person from accessing her Facebook profile and contacted the police.

She says the police officer advised her to file a report in case the messages continued.

Stephanie says the messages have since stopped.

But, she is not the only individual to complain to police about harassment stemming from Facebook.

Matt Brown is the spokesman for the Springfield Police Department.

He says Facebook creates a unique situation where potential stalkers have the protection of anonymity.

Greene County Sheriff Jack Merritt has also voiced his concern over the amount of information that young people are posting about themselves.

He says you need to be aware that just about anyone could be looking at your profile.

Missouri State Dean of Students, Earle Doman, says that university administrators are becoming much more aware of the power of Facebook.

He says that new students will be told about Facebook before they even move on campus.

Despite the risks, Stephanie is still posting information on Facebook.

But, she says she took the police officers advice is being much more careful online.

Facebook does allow users to block other individuals from seeing their profile and has a link to its privacy policy when you first sign up.

Brown says if you are ever contacted by an individual in a way that makes you uncomfortable, the first thing you need to do is tell them to stop.

If they persist, contact the police immediately.

I'm Matt Petcoff for KSMU...