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Society - Written by on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 8:45 - 2 Comments

Laura M.  Carrillo
Do new Facebook security measures replace parental monitoring?

This Sunday Facebook announced the forming of the Facebook Safety Advisory Board where they will partner with five  leading Internet safety organizations in an effort to further increase security measures on the social network. The initial partner organizations based in North America and Europe include Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely, WiredSafety, Childnet International, and The Family Online Safety Institute. Per a Sci-Tech Today post:

The first job of the new board is to help overhaul the safety elements of Facebook’s help center. They also intend to jointly create a library of online materials information for teachers, parents and youth. There remains a lot of work to do. In mid-November, Facebook was the victim of an attack in which a group called Control Your Info took administrative control of numerous Facebook pages and repeated at each a message suggesting that they could have posted malicious messages and done more damage. It’s important to note that Control Your Info didn’t use technology such as viruses or worms to take over Facebook networks. This suggests that better management controls and policies could have precluded the attack — which is precisely the message the group was trying to convey.

Per a post by Richard Allen, Facebook’s Director European Public Policy, there may be more organizations added to the board. Allen added that The Safety Advisory Board is just one step Facebook has taken to promote a safer environment online. Other steps Facebook recently announced include -

• A partnership with MTV on the A Thin Line campaign to educate people about digital abuse.
New York Attorney General’s office citing Facebook’s help in identifying and disabling the accounts of registered sex offenders.
• Work with the BBC in November on their Bullyproof campaign in the UK.
• Work with organizations like the National Crime Prevention Council to share safety tips with users, and provide updates on new safety approaches they’re taking on the site to make reporting abuse easier.

I applaud Facebook for developing these relationships and taking proactive measures to keep children safe online. However, the critical link still has to be at home. As I mentioned in a previous post, it doesn’t matter how many policies are in place, if parents are not aware of what their kids are doing online.

This raises a few other questions – What age is appropriate for kids to have a profile on a social network like Facebook? What steps should parents be taking to keep their kids safe online? How do you reach parents that have no access or interest in online activities?

What do you think? How is social networking and overall Internet use handled with your children? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


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John Woodring
Dec 19, 2009 21:32

Parents absolutely need to be aware of what their children are doing online. Unfortunately, so-called security measures and safety software give parents a false sense of security. All this can easily be bypassed by a kid with a little skill and moderate determination using proxy servers. I try to warn parents about the real threats online such as cyberbullying or sexting and it seems they want to hear about pedophiles. The news media does not help much either because another 14 year old kid is not scary enough to sell news. Politicians are the same way.

Terry Bartick
Dec 21, 2009 17:08

My brother and his wife just found out that his 13 year old step-daughter has a MySpace page, where she claims to be 17. They are responsible parents who monitor her screen time; unfortunately, the parents of her 12 year old friend don’t have the same rules in their house. My step-niece claims that the 18 year olds that she communicates with are really just her 13 year old friends who say they’re older, the same way she did. (Picture me scratching my head here at that logic.) She totally doesn’t understand that if she is 13 and claims to be 17, then the 18 year old she is talking to could be a 40 year old nutcase. Anyway, my brother talked to her friend’s parents and found out they didn’t think it was a big deal that the girls were doing this, so now my niece is not allowed to hang out at that friend’s house anymore. I was just thinking that my 3 year old is developing good computer skills when he plays on PBS Kids – but maybe I should check to see if he is on Facebook claiming to be 7!

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