Letting a 13 year old use Facebook

So the day finally arrives. You’ve promised your child that as soon as they turn 13, they can have the Facebook account that they’ve coveted for so long. Today they turn 13. What do you do? The New Your Times has an excellent article guiding parents and guardians through the privacy settings minefield.

Even for an adult, Facebook’s privacy settings are as daunting as trying to do your taxes with an abacus. For teenagers, unaware of the consequences of their online actions, using Facebook incorrectly could potentially leave a digital trail that might follow them all the way through high school, college and into the real world. What’s more, there are also creepy people out there on social networks.

Read the whole article here.

Facebook changes privacy settings yet again

News this morning that Facebook has changed privacy settings yet again. The New York Times and Mashable both have reports. Mashable explains:

The changes will be rolled out from now through the end of the year, but the company shared a sneak peek of the new menu options.

It’s not all good news though as Mashable continues:

Your ability to remove yourself from Facebook search is, however, going away.

The New York Times explains the good, the bad and the ugly:

First, it is improving some privacy protections. The company is adding a new top-level control, called Privacy Shortcuts, that will allow people to quickly change who can see their “stuff” (as Facebook calls it) and who can contact them through the Web site. The shortcut will also feature a one-button link to block someone on Facebook.

But when Facebook giveth, Facebook taketh away.

The company is eliminating the ability for people to hide themselves on Facebook’s search, a control, that until now, has existed in the privacy settings on the company’s Web site.

Facebook users will need to carefully investigate how these changes will affect them.

Read Mashable’s entire guide here and The New York Times article here.

Rethinking privacy in an era of big data

Recently the New York Times published a piece on privacy in the era of big data. Asking questions such as:

  • who owns email correspondence between two people? (as someone who has accidentally found that a friend routinely forwards my private emails to others, this is a real issue.)
  • can we control the way we’re portrayed if other people post photos of us?
  • why should we have to make an effort to keep conversations private that were formerly private by default?
Social media researcher danah boys says
 “Regulation is coming,” she says. “You may not like it, you may close your eyes and hold your nose, but it is coming.”

The issue is what the regulation looks like, and how well it is considered. “Technologists need to re-engage with regulators,” she says. “We need to get to a model where we really understand usage.” Right now, even among the highest geek circles, “we have very low levels of computational literacy, data literacy, media literacy, and all of these are contributing to the fears.”

As always, laws need to play catch-up with what is happening in the world of technology and regulation could be some time coming.

Read the whole article here.

The consequences of sexting

This information on ‘sexting’ is from the Victoria Legal Aid site.

Child pornography

You could be charged by the police with producing child pornography if:

  • you take a nude or semi-nude picture of a person under 18, even if they are your friend and consent (agree) to the picture being taken
  • you take photos or video of a person under 18 involved in sexual activity or posing in an indecent sexual manner (or who looks like they are).

You could also be charged with possessing child pornography if you go onto the internet and download pornography showing people under 18.

If you put a pornographic photo or video on the internet or your phone, print a photo, or email or text it to a friend, you could be charged with publishing or transmitting child pornography. You could be charged even if you are the same age or younger than the person in the picture or video.

People found guilty of sexual offences or child pornography are stopped from working or volunteering with children – for example, as a teacher or a sports coach – or volunteering with children.

Mobile phone pictures and the risks of ‘sexting

’‘Sexting’ or sending ’sext messages’ is where nude and/or sexual images are taken on a mobile phone, often by young people and their friends. This is a crime if the photo includes a person under 18. Sexting is already leading to young people being charged by police with child pornography offences.

Think carefully about the consequences of taking or sending pictures of your friends on your mobile phone, especially if they are not fully dressed and even if they agree. You could be charged by police for committing a criminal offence.

It may seem like harmless fun, but be careful – once you send pictures electronically they can become part of your ‘digital footprint’ and this lasts forever. It could damage your future career prospects or relationships.

Victoria Legal Aid

These newspaper articles illustrate these points with real life examples of the implications: