The private, personal character that makes online social networks appealing to people looking to stay in touch with friends and family is also leading data protection advocates from around the globe to criticize the sites.
Armed with some of Europe's most wide-reaching data protection laws, critics in Germany have accused social networks and other online sites of collecting and making commercial use of personal information without members' explicit permission - as required by law.
Google and Facebook are both under investigation in Germany, as well as other countries, for their privacy and data retention practices.
Deutsche Welle looks at the actions being taken against a number of Web sites and how Germans are using the Web and social media.
The world's biggest high-tech fair has opened in the German city of Hanover. The CeBIT event follows revelations of vast spying by British and US intelligence agencies, which sparked a global debate about data security.
Qwant, a search engine promising users more privacy and "something different," has been launched in Germany. But whether the service will experience a high uptake among users remains to be seen.
Japanese media say the nation's fisheries agency has decided to boost protection for juvenile bluefin tuna by halving Japan's northern Pacific catch. Studies show a dramatic decline in tuna prized by eaters of sushi.
A massive global decline in bee populations has given beekeepers and scientists cause for concern. A scientist from Hamburg says that the introduction of tiny book scorpions could keep bee populations alive.