Facebook In The Dock?

30 09 2007

The New York Attorney General’s office has stated that Facebook could be facing charges of consumer fraud. For those of you who don’t know (hello, welcome to this place we call the “internet”. I hope it wasn’t too uncomfortable living under that rock) Facebook is a social networking site, that initially began as school or college-only. Many have argued that it should go back to these roots, because part of the appeal of the original Facebook was the privacy and safety people felt they possessed in a “closed” network (which was still open to millions).

Of course the idea of “privacy” on a social networking site is an oxymoron (by their nature such sites make private matters “public”), but safety is something that can be safeguarded. All of these sites (although, to be fair, such concerns exist on all websites) open up young people to paedophiles and predators. The internet as a whole is “unsafe” for children, but the onus must be on parents to be more responsible, not on companies that operate websites to do the job of the parents. When do we finally demand parents be responsible for their kids?

If Facebook were claiming youngsters were “completely safe” on their website then they’d be misleading consumers. However they don’t say this, merely that Facebook is safer than many (note, they don’t claim “all”) other sites. If parents have a misrepresentation then that is their own fault. Why do we allow idiots to procreate? Newsflash parents, the internet is not a safe place for children to be unsupervised, it never has been, it never will be. You wouldn’t let your kids play in the motorway (well you probably would but that’s besides the point) so why let them be on the internet without supervision? Be a parent and supervise!

Whilst I do not claim to be an expert on social networking sites, I would say that if it is used properly Facebook does have better privacy and safety options than its rivals, but the key words are “if it is used properly”. Too many people do not set up their privacy settings appropriately, and then cry foul. The hysteria over the “mini-feed” is misplaced. The information that appears on it is only available to those who can find the same information out by simply visiting your profile. Of course having a timsetamp concerned some people so there is now an option to turn off the time from being reported. You choose what gets reported and what doesn’t and can manually remove items. The key is you need to use it properly.

Whilst I welcome efforts to stop “internet grooming” by paedophiles, I don’t see how Facebook fails to live up to its claims. The story seems to me to be another case of the government finding convenient scapegoats for poor parenting. First it was the TV, then movies, then video games, now it’s social networking sites.

Anything but admit that the standard of parenting is abysmal…


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5 responses

30 09 2007
Amy

Interesting.

I think you’re right. (I wish I can come up with something more profound than that but I personally can’t stand social network sites like facebook or myspace so that is the best I can think of to say at this moment.)

30 09 2007
Mr President

MySpace I certainly can’t stand. Facebook I find useful, but I don’t “live” by it and definitely do think people get far too wrapped up in things like social network sites. It’s the old need to be popular, which I personally have never suffered from. I quite like being unpopular. It lasts longer.

1 10 2007
Ben

I found my child accessing pornography on my completely unsecured computer. I now have 3600 viruses and weird windows keep opening randoming. I would like to sue the Internet please.

1 10 2007
Mr President

Heh Ben, well put. In that situation we’d say “You should have secured your computer” yet if someone’s kid gets “groomed” we don’t say “You should have supervised your kids”. People need to take responsibility.

7 10 2007
Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave « Textual Relations

[…] we still have parents letting their kids have unsupervised computer access and then blaming websites for not keeping their children safe. If these people are searching for that sort of material and […]

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