SOCIAL NETWORKING EXPLORED
HOW DO WE KNOW WE ARE SAFE ONLINE?
In New Zealand alone, 79% of New Zealanders use Facebook as a source of communication, 90% of 15-24 year olds use this but it is a known fact that 350 million users world wide are under aged. So with all of these minors online is it really safe for their use? On the agenda that worries most parents is definitely the safety of their young ones online. It is known users have to be 13 years and older to make an account on network sites like Facebook, but statistics show that there are more than 350 million underage users have opportunity to access these types of networks at their fingertips. Tweeting, status updates and posting photos seem harmless unless you know what you are doing and simultaneously being cautious. Online we have a sense of being safe, but how safe?
Websites like MySpace and Facebook are leading social networks which are constantly being used so it is important to deal with some safety issues especially since underage users are online. MySpace has become very proactive employing their own filtering software and with more than a third of their large staff are dedicated to checking for offensive photo postings and underage contributors. But inappropriate content does slip through and contributions that some parents consider unpleasant are everywhere. So what are the big names doing about this to make this safer for young teens?
Facebook is the second biggest largest network in the world and is also getting to be very proactive. Facebook has reached out to an attorney general in agreement to improve their control to protect minors for inappropriate content on their website. Facebook’s new safety standards will include new improvements like to carry out new technology to protect young users from sexual predators, cooperating with local law enforcement, adding safety tools for all users and also providing educational and safety resources. The following are the agreements Facebook has made and agreed to fulfil:
-Maintaining and updating a list of pornographic sites and cutting any links that they may have to Facebook.
-Increasing efforts to remove cyber bullying, pedophilia, and incest groups and individuals off of the Facebook site.
-Removing any inappropriate images and content found within the site.
-Displaying the safety tips when using the Facebook website and requiring under age children to affirm and agree that they have read the Facebook safety tips before they sign up to use the website.
-Thoroughly check into users that have requested to change their age. The requests will be logged and only a single request will be allowed to change an age to above or below eighteen years of age.
-Companies offering services such as “widgets” to implement and enforce the Facebook safety and privacy guidelines.
-Limiting specific ads for age restricted products like alcohol or tobacco to users who are old enough to purchase them.
-Removing profiles and not allowing any registered sex offenders to use the Facebook network.
-Allowing parents the opportunity by giving them tools to remove their underage child’s profile from the web site completely.
-Restricting users over the age of eighteen and not allowing them to seek users under the age of eighteen. There have also been also limits on specific searches made.
Raising the safety standards for Facebook has been a milestone the network as well for social network safety and has brought Facebook success for both adults and young adolescents, knowing we are being protected from predators, scammers, hackers or whatever is out there is very reassuring.