Facebook hands teenagers a megaphone

Recently ReadWrite published a post explaining that Facebook now

…officially wants teens to overshare as well, in ways that might also make them better fodder for advertising.

Facebook announced today that teenage users can now make their posts public on Facebook. Previously, the social network limited users between the ages of 13 and 17 to distributing posts to their extended network—i.e. friends and friends of friends. Teenage users also now have the option to turn on the “follow” setting for their accounts, letting public updates appear in news feeds.

Read the whole post here.

Teenagers’ anti-sexting app launched

Recently the BBC reported that a new app, Zipit, has been launched to help teenagers politely and wittily deflect requests for intimate pictures.

The free app from (UK charity) Childline offers users a choice of what the charity says are “witty responses” to send instead

Although Zipit is a free app, sending responses Zipit provides may incur mobile carrier costs. Zipit is available through iTunes and Google Play.

A social profile is not a CV

Recently The Age published an article stating that a social media profile is not a CV. Year 11 student Olympia Nelson states:

Young people need to be protected from cyber-spying by prospective employers.

It’s creepy to think that you’re being stalked. But how much creepier is it that a group of people sit around a long table analysing information on your Facebook profile in order to decide whether you’re worthy of a job in their organisation?

The government is not going to protect you from people looking at what you publish. It’s up to you to portray yourself as you’d like to be seen. She continues:

When teachers say: ‘‘Do you know that employers will actually search you on Facebook’’, they are implicitly condoning, rather than condemning, this despicable and illogical intrusiveness. Why aren’t they devoting their energies to berating search companies for cyber-stalking?

Like it or not, what you put out to the public domain via social media is going to be viewed and used by others. Whether it’s a prospective employer or worse, what you publicly publish is open to all. We aren’t condoning it, we’re just telling it like it is. A reminder to think before you post.

Children caught in online blackmail

A concerning story from the United Kingdom a few weeks ago involving children being blackmailed. The Independent reports:

The blackmailing of children has emerged as a fast-growing new method employed by sadistic abusers who operate behind fake profiles on social networks to take advantage of youthful sexual experimentation and snare their victims, driving some to self-harm and even suicide.

…grooming often starts on open chat forums before moving to private areas where the talk swiftly becomes more explicit. The threats usually start after children have been tricked into posting compromising pictures of themselves that they fear could be distributed more widely.

Although this story concerns the United Kingdom, it’s a timely reminder for us all to ensure we know who it is we’re communicating with online and not to share intimate photos and/or videos online.

Online privacy faces court challenge

An interesting article coming out of the United Kingdom that spy agency GSHQ has breached the privacy of tens of millions of Europeans.

“[there is a] lack of democratic accountability and judicial oversight. People living across the UK, Europe, the USA and beyond need the courts to protect their rights and start the process of re-establishing public trust.”

As some of our data is stored in the United Kingdom and United States, this is an issue that is relevant to Australians as well. Currently it seems we don’t know who actually has access to our data, which is a real privacy concern.

Who’s chatting to your kids?

Queensland Police has developed a resource for parents entitled Who’s chatting to your kids: surviving social media use with your children. Covering the topics of:

  • social media
  • smart devices and phones
  • other internet capable devices (gaming consoles, smart televisions)
  • sexting
  • signs your child could be at risk
  • suggestions to help protect your child on the internet
  • family safety internet agreement

The most important piece of advice they give is:

Maintain direct and open communication with your child.

This is a useful resource, however, I’d like to see more emphasis on children and young adults being encouraged to build a positive digital footprint.

How do I deal with unwanted contact?

Today the Australian Communications and Media Authority‘s Cybersmart website is looking at how to deal with unwanted contact online. Advice includes:

  • Don’t respond and leave the site or chat session.
  • Report it to an adult that you trust or to the police, if there is a threat to your safety
  • Block the contact or remove them from your friends list.
  • Change your profile settings so that your personal details are kept private.
  • Don’t open messages from people you don’t know.
  • Keep the evidence. This can be useful in tracking the person posting unsuitable material.
  • Contact your ISP and/or phone provider, or the website administrator, there are actions they can take to help.

See more here.