Survey: Facebook opens the door to party problems

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More than half of teenage house party invitations posted on Facebook include address details that can be seen by anyone with access to the internet, according to new research.

The survey also suggests that 10 per cent of those hosting a Christmas or New Year party have made the location of these parties visible to all.

Despite Facebook taking steps this year to make it easier for site users to restrict their privacy settings, young people are still risking an influx of gate crashers at their house parties by posting details of birthday, graduation and house parties openly on the social networking site.

The recent privacy U-turn and personal admission of mistakes by Mark Zuckerberg should see rules further tightened next year.

But according to the research by Sainsbury’s Home Insurance 15 per cent of under-18s have been to a house party in the past 12 months where gate crashers had turned up, and 16 per cent say they have been to a house party in the past year where they didn’t know the host.

In the past year, one in five under-18s have been to a house party with no adult supervision and 12 per cent have been to parties where damage has been caused to the walls and furnishings.

Some 12 per cent of teens have been at a house party where neighbours complained and 10 per cent reported seeing other party goers indulging in dangerous or irresponsible behaviour.

In the past year, four per cent of teens have witnessed theft from a host’s house and the same number witnessed theft of other party-goers’ personal belongings.

Ben Tyte, head of Sainsbury’s Home Insurance said: “The way people are invited to parties has changed dramatically over the past few years.

“Social media sites are a great way of organising an event but if site users don’t take proper precautions they can significantly increase the risk of receiving unwanted guests.

“Frighteningly, our research suggests that of the average 241 Facebook “friends” teenagers admit to having, nearly half don’t know them well enough to let them into their home.

“Accidental damage cover is an essential element of home insurance that homeowners shouldn’t do without but they should bear in mind that they could potentially invalidate their cover if they haven’t taken reasonable care – a house full of unwanted, unruly, guests could mean that any damage caused might not be covered.”

The findings also reveal that Facebook and the associated ‘Facebook Places’ app are together the most regular place for under-18s to hear about a house party with 80 per cent of youths saying they hear about social events via these means, 19 per cent also regularly hear about parties through Blackberry Messenger and eight per cent through Twitter.

Indeed, the rise of location-based networks like Facebook Places and Foursquare and an increase in the use of hand-held internet-enabled devices is enabling young people to advertise their presence at parties in real-time, potentially increasing the risk of a sudden influx of unwanted guests.