Danger Lurks in Social Networks; Students at Archbishop Beck Catholic Sports College in Walton Discover Whether Social Networking Sites - Such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace - Have Led to an Increase in Bullying

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MILLIONS of people use social networking sites every day but there are frequent reports of people being abused online. The ECHO teamed up with Business in the Community and Archbishop Beck Catholic Sports College, in Walton, to find out if online abuse has got worse. Today Daniel Smith, Matthew Lavelle, Matthew Hobson and Joseph Preston ask members of the public what they think LAUNCHED in February 2004 Facebook is the largest social network in the world with 500 million active users. Twitter has more than 100 million active accounts.

According to reports some 70% of young people have suffered some form of bullying.

More than half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying. More than one in three young people said they have experienced cyber threats online. There have also been a number of reports in the media about "trolling" - where internet tribute sites are defaced causing further hurt to grieving families.

At least 20 children every year commit suicide because they are being bullied. Bullying is not new to society. But we wanted to find out whether it has got worse since social networking sites soared in popularity.

Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram is trying to get new laws through parliament to stop people posting abusive messages on websites.

Mr Rotheram said: "I think trolling on Facebook and Twitter and other websites on the internet is getting worse. Last year a young Wirral girl called Georgia Varley fell on to train lines [at James Street station] and got killed.

"Her family put up an online memorial site for Georgia for people to post things and some people put horrible messages about Georgia and put links to other horrible things.

"I want to introduce a private members bill to stop 'trolling' on Facebook, Twitter or any other website on the internet where you can interact with people."

A Facebook spokesman said it was against the site's rules "to intimidate or harass others".

He said the site would "react swiftly" to disable accounts found in breach of their terms.

PUBLIC OPINION WE asked some members of the public if they thought bullying has got worse since social networking sites were introduced. …