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When News Goes Social

By now television networks ought to know the hazards of dabbling in social networking Websites.

While news networks have set up groups to attract young Web denizens (see here), many user-created groups don’t always shine the most flattering light on networks or their personalities.

Facebook users in particular seem to enjoy creating network-related groups like "I Watch Comedy Central for My News and Fox News for My Comedy" and "Anderson Cooper, Bringing Sexy Back to CNN."

"That is part of playing the game that is Facebook and the Internet in general," says Catherine Captain, VP of marketing for "Playful Keith Olbermann pages are one thing. But if there was anything hateful or inappropriate, we may be more inclined to take action."

Not only do the networks have to deal with the mockery, but some industrious users actually create network-related applications that can one-up the real deal.

CNN’s widget, which feeds headlines from straight into user’s profiles, has 686 monthly active users as of this writing. But CNN Breaking News, a third-party application that does the same thing, has more than 1,800.

"As long as people are not hurting the brand and are not in breach of the terms of service agreement, we don’t have a problem with that," says Andy Mitchell, VP of interactive marketing for CNN.

CNN is working on a new version of the widget that it says will offer more interactivity than the current one.

Note to CNN: The kids love Scrabble.