Arson Suspects' Internet Postings Spark Concerns - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Arson Suspects' Internet Postings Spark Concerns

It's impossible to know for sure what Matt Cloyd meant when he posted this message on his Facebook.com wall: "2006 is here. It is time to reconvene the season of evil!" If it's revealed the suspects did publish clues to the eventual string of church arsons, it raises questions for many about Internet privacy issues and the safety of social networking sites.

Concerned Montgomery parent, Tracey Kirksey, says, "We're in a society of 'Don't blame me.' I'm not going to take responsibility for this."

Kirksey, like many parents, were in the dark until recently about sites like Facebook.com, a popular social networking site that's blended into most college students' vocabulary.

Junior at Troy University, Daniel Curtis, exclaims, "Everybody's got Facebook now. It's kind of becoming one of those new American words. 'Hey, Facebook me.'"

Another college student, Mark Vaughn, says he checks his Facebook profile twice a day. "What I really like about it," adds Vaughn, "is the fact that you can keep in touch with all your classmates from high school and anybody you go to college with."

On the site, friends generally post recent pictures, spring break plans and the like, but the perceived privacy of the closed network can be misleading.

Jessica Boswell says, "It's a big risk just like anything on the Internet is." Parents have no way of viewing what their kids' post on Facebook.com, an alarming fact for some in lieu of what we've discovered on the profiles of the arson suspects.

"I just feel like if the parents possibly would have known that their kids were on these websites," Kirksey adds, "posting comments like this, it might have raised a red flag for them."

Most concerns over Facebook.com are really the same as any other website: how much of your personal information is available to strangers? Most people opt to limit what they post to things that wouldn't put them at risk for identity fraud. However, teenagers as young as 13-years-old are signing on to social networking sites like Facebook.com and are as naive about the potential risks online as some of their parents can be.

Investigators will not say at this point if information posted on Facebook.com will be used as evidence in the case.

Reporter: Theo Travers

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