Facebook, FetLife, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ning, Digg, MeetUp, blogs, Instagram, KIK, etc.,  -- the number of social networking sites and tools is exploding. Social networking is the killer app of the Internet for everyone. Such sites have become links to communicate with businesses, news, brands, celebrities, and friends, are a way to find  your next job or the next big coffee spot. They can be addictive. For some, it's the perfect mix of an RSS reader, a chat room, and a never-ending party. But it's also a perfect place for the shady side of the internet to exploit you.  Let's learn some safety tips before you use the social network to share your new news.

But why am I talking about social networking when this whole month as been about journaling and blogging? Because, a lot of you, and I mean a LOT, are using twitter and other social networking sites as a way of microblogging.

What is microblogging?

In a word, microblogging is simply the art of posting frequent, but very short posts. Unlike regular blogging – writing long posts with photos – microblogging is meant to be quick, succinct, and pointed. You share your day, your successes and your failures with the click of a button or the snap of a photo.

5 Tips to Remember When Using Social Networking Sites or Apps

Remember the following while you’re tweeting, re-tweeting and hashtagging away:

1. Be a little skeptical of everything, especially Direct Messages

In about two minutes, you could create a Twitter account that impersonates almost anyone, living or dead. Twitter has “Verified Accounts” for celebrities, but no one is really verifying if an account was really opened by your co-worker Beth. That said: hackers probably aren’t going out of their way to impersonate your co-worker. But they might take over Beth’s account to trick you into clicking on a bad link.

So carefully scan any profile page you’re thinking of following. Check to see if there’s a respectable image. Make sure all tweets aren’t entirely repetitive self-serving spam. See if there’s a reasonable “follower-to-following” ratio. Then, if they look interesting, follow away.

2. Use a strong password

Once a hacker has your password, your account and social identity is completely vulnerable. So guard those little jewels jealously. Most importantly, you should use different passwords for every account you have. Your passwords should be complex and not based on any public information like your kids’ or pets’ names.

3. Don't post anything you don't want others to see.

The most common photo you see on Facebook of most America teens is the mirror shot. Thankfully, most photos are tame, but we've all seen enough leaked naughty pics of starlets to know that people just can't resist the temptation to share a saucy photo with their current paramour. If you don't want your parents, friends, and co-workers to see these shots—don't take them and don't share them with anyone.

4. Don't say anything to anyone online that you wouldn't say to their face.

We get very brave online. We yell (ALL CAPS) and say nasty things to other people. In real life (IRL) we'd never be that bold. The rules should not be different online. Use good sense in IRL and online. If you're really angry, take a deep breath, count to ten and then take a short walk. When you sit back down in front of your computer you'll realize that sending that e-mail, making the Facebook post or Tweeting that bit of venom was a stupid idea.

5. Assume that everything you put on a social networking site is permanent.

Even if you can delete your account, anyone on the Internet can easily print photos or text or save images and videos to a computer. There are tons of archive sites just storing the content posted on the internet. Once you post it, it's there forever.

Do you use Twitter, Instagram or any of the other social networking sites? Are there any tips you can offer that you've picked up from using Social Media sites? Share your thoughts in the comments!