20 years ago, before Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace joined the American lexicon, people had very few ways to find out about their favorite celebrities. Gossip magazines were popular, as were tabloid television shows that reported more up-to-the-minute news than a weekly magazine was able to. This all changed, however, when social media sites exploded onto the Internet. Before long celebrities joined up in an attempt to promote themselves. Some, like Kim Kardashian, have been quite successful at making money off the posts and “tweets” they send out for their millions of fans to read.

The question must be asked, though, is this a good thing?

Social media sites have effectively brought the celebrities and their fans almost as close as they can possibly be. Friending a pop star gives anybody nearly unfettered access to the singer, no matter the time of day or night. The result of this sudden desire to put every thought on Facebook or Twitter means that a celebrities’ simple musings or bad idea of a joke has the potential to become headline and to achieve high instagram followers, resulting in news around the country. In addition, there are much more nefarious consequences of opening a social media account. The fan that Miley Cyrus just friended? He’s not a 12 year old girl, he’s a hacker who now has potential access to Miley’s computer via her Facebook account.

Many stars have felt the pain of their personal phones and computers being hacked. Chris Brown and Rhianna have had nude pictures of themselves spread all over the web while Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan have had to deal with the fallout of their personal info being leaked. Hayley Williams, lead singer of the band Paramore, mistakenly sent a naked picture of herself out to all her Twitter followers while it was only supposed to go to her boyfriend via a personal message.

Beyond those instances, tweets and Facebook posts can have negative consequences as well. After the devastating earthquake in Japan recently, Gilbert Gottfried posted as many as a dozen jokes about it, all of which were in bad taste. He was fired from his job as the Aflac duck almost instantly. Rapper 50 Cent also took to Twitter and it landed him in some hot water. After telling his millions of followers to invest in a stock for a company he owned part of, he was forced to take down his Tweets by the SEC.

Before these sites revolutionized the contact between stars and their fans, celebrities routinely had their publicists or representatives issues statements. These people were trained to say the right things at the right times. Stars most likely do not have this training so their personal musings do not have the luxury of being “cleansed.”

It is obvious social media is here to stay. Likewise, famous people are more than likely going to continue using these sites as a vehicle to further their careers. Frequently hearing about inappropriate posts or seeing the occasional naked pictures or sex tape are things that will come with the territory. This is just another way the ever-evolving technological world of social media will be impacting the future.