As social networking has ballooned, so have concerns about privacy and online security. Friendster claims it "does not send spam or sell email addresses" [source: Friendster.com]. Certain personal data (name, e-mail address, birth date, etc.) is required for registration. As is common in the Internet world, Friendster may share non-identifiable data such as user patterns to help advertisers target their audiences more efficiently.
With the exception of a few basics viewable to all, who sees your profile is largely up to you. As we mentioned earlier, blocking individual users from accessing your profile is one way to avoid unwanted solicitation. Adjust privacy settings to filter out certain countries, limit access to "friends-only" or second-degree access (friends of friends). The public setting means it's viewable to all.
And what about lying, is that cool? In the past Friendster has discouraged the use of "Fakester" profiles, whether they were pet pages or rock bands. This tactic backfired when users complained and groups and fan pages became popular. Hence the creation of the Fan Profile.
The more pressing concern is safety. Providing misleading personal details or hiding under pseudonyms is a common tactic for spammers, marketers, stalkers and other predators. But the flip side works too for protecting oneself from those predators.
Concerns about youth safety may be less of an issue now that Friendster targets the 18+ audience, and you must be at least 16 to join. But it should be noted that there's really no surefire way to tell fact from fiction in the world of virtual personalities. The only confirmation Friendster requires is that you enter your birth date and year when you sign up, which can be fudged with a little basic math. (You must also confirm that you are eligible by agreeing to their terms of service by marking a check box.)
So is underage use a major problem for Friendster? There are probably some offenders. But applications like Classmates, which connects college students, and the ability to add school profiles to individual pages, makes Friendster far more useful for older kids and adults than the underage. And with so many other sites out there open to all ages, it's likely easier to just go somewhere else rather than fake 16+ status.
Next, is Friendster a has-been? And why in the world did it say no to $30 million from Google?