Regarding Facebook and other Social Network sites

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How to Keep Your Kids Safe on Facebook

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:02 am

Your children are probably spending more time on Facebook than you are. Here's how to protect them from predators, their peers, and themselves.


Leah Yamshon, PCWorld Sep 30, 2010 9:00 pm




Boasting 500 million users worldwide and still growing, Facebook is now ubiquitous. Because of its popularity, minors have jumped onto the social media bandwagon, too, and they use networking the same way adults do--to share pictures, connect with friends, organize events, and play social games. And that can be a problem. For the most part, Facebook provides a fun and safe way for users of all ages to communicate with their pals. But because kids and teens are, well, kids and teens, they're the ones most at risk of falling victim to the dangers of Facebook. With a bit of strategic parental guidance, you can educate your kids about the potential hazards of social media and give them the tools they need to protect themselves from online predators, guard their personal information, preserve their online reputation, and avoid suspicious downloads that could harm your PC. [b]Facebook and Kids [/b]

An iStrategyLabs study documents the growth rates of Facebook profiles in the United States based on age, gender, location, education level, and interests. The study shows that from January 2009 to January 2010, the 13-to-17-year-old age group grew about 88 percent in the U.S., jumping from about 5.7 million teenage Facebook users to almost 10.7 million. Those figures, of course, don't include minors who lied about their age upon creating their profile.
Despite a legal requirement that kids must be 13 or older to sign up for Facebook, many younger children are using the service. Because no perfect age-verification system exists, younger kids are able to slip by unnoticed through falsifying their age. (For instance, I have one friend whose 12-year-old daughter listed her birth year as 1991 on Facebook, thereby claiming that she was 19 years old.) The safety and public-policy teams at Facebook are aware of their young audience, and the site has rolled out privacy settings specifically for the under-18 set. Users between the ages of 13 and 17 get what Facebook's privacy policy calls a “slightly different experience.” Minors do not have public search listings created for them when they sign up for Facebook, meaning their accounts cannot be found on general search engines outside of Facebook. The “Everyone” setting is not quite as open for minors as it is for adults. If a minor's privacy settings are set to “Everyone,” that includes only friends, friends of friends, and people within the child's verified school or work network. However, the “Everyone” setting still allows adults to search for minors by name and send them friend requests (and vice versa), unless the account owner manually changes that. Also, only people within a minor's “Friends of Friends” network can message them. Facebook recently premiered a new location-based service called Places, which has some restrictions for minors as well. Minors can share their location through Places only with people on their Friends lists, even if their privacy settings are set to “Everyone.” As for the teens who lie about how old they are, Facebook does have a way of verifying age. If, for instance, a 19-year-old is mostly friends with 13- and 14-year-olds, and they seem to be taking lots of photos together, then Facebook might suspect that the user is actually 12 or 13--and then it may flag the user's page for removal or give the user a warning.

The Basics: Protecting Personal Information

Even with Facebook's privacy policy for minors, a child's personal information is still widely on display. A young person's Facebook account is just the beginning of their online footprint, and they need to take that fact seriously, since it can affect their reputation today and potentially come into play later in life when they're applying for college and for jobs.
Facebook public-policy representative Nicky Jackson Colaco advises parents to sit down with their kids and talk about the importance of protecting one's online identity. Maintaining open communication with your children is the key to understanding exactly how they're using Facebook. “I'd never send my son onto the football field without pads and knowledge of the game,” Colaco says, “and it's exactly the same with Facebook.” If you have a Facebook profile, consider sending your child a friend request--not necessarily as a spying tool, but to remind your child of your own online presence. If you don't have a Facebook account, ask your child to show you their profile. It helps to familiarize yourself as much as possible with the site's privacy controls and other settings, because the more you know about Facebook, the better equipped you can be if something serious ever arises. It's also a good idea to take a look at your child's photos and wall posts to make sure they are age appropriate. Remind your child that the Internet in general, but especially Facebook, is not a kids-only zone, and that adults can see what's on their profile as well. Maintaining an appropriate online presence as a teenager will help your child build a respectable online footprint. Remember: The Internet never forgets. If your kid really has something to hide, they might make a Facebook profile behind your back, or have one account that's parent-friendly and a separate account for their friends. If they show you a profile that seems skimpy on content, that could be a red flag. That's where PC and Web-monitoring tools could come into play (see the "Monitoring Behavior" section on the next page). Finally, go over Facebook's privacy settings with your child, and show them how to activate the highest level of security. Emphasize that Facebook is a place for friends and not strangers, and then change their profile to “friends only.” Again, remind your child to be wary of what they post in their status updates, since oversharing online can lead to consequences in the real world. “As the site gets bigger, it's important to have everyone working together--us, parents, kids, our safety advisory board--to make sure the site remains a safe place,” Colaco says. [b]Cyberbullying [/b]

The suicides of 13-year-old Megan Meier and 15-year-old Phoebe Prince have brought media attention to the potentially devastating effects of cyberbullying. A study performed as part of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a division of the Pew Research center, reports that “32 percent of online teens have experienced some sort of harassment via the Internet,” including private material being forwarded without permission, threatening messages, and embarrassing photos posted without their consent.
Research performed at the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center shows that, while adults are inclined to moderate their online behavior, children and teens are “significantly more willing to 'go further' and to type very shocking things that they would never say in person… Kids believe that online statements simply 'don't count' because they’re not being said to someone's face.” Because young people tend to believe that they aren’t accountable for their online actions, Facebook becomes a convenient place to target victims for bullying. Although you can't do much to prevent your child from being bullied online, you can help them end the harassment if it starts. The MARC Center has several guides offering tips on how to handle cyberbullying, and all of them start with communicating directly with your child--don't be afraid to get involved. If you think your child is being bullied, advise your child to spend less time on the site in question, or flag the bully by notifying the Website. If the behavior is also happening at school, notify the school's administrators so that they, too, can get involved. Facebook also makes it easy to report harassment issues, and encourages users to do so. But what if you find out that your child is the one doing the bullying? Both scenarios are possible, and both should be dealt with. In a New York Times Q&A session on cyberbullying, expert Elizabeth K. Englander of the MARC Center addresses an approach that parents should take if they discover that their child is the bully. She first recommends that you discuss with your child why cyberbullying is hurtful, and bring up some of the tragic cases of teen suicide related to online harassment. Try to understand that your child could be reacting to pressure from friends, or that your child may be retaliating against someone who hurt their feelings in a similar manner. Although such circumstances don’t excuse the behavior, learning about them could bring a larger issue to your attention. Finally, establish a set of rules for your teen to follow when using Facebook and other social networking sites, and monitor your child’s usage, perhaps even placing a daily time limit.

[b]Stranger Danger [/b]

Earlier this year, 33-year-old Peter Chapman was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping, raping, and murdering a 17-year-old girl he met through Facebook. Chapman, a registered sex offender, had created a fake profile and pretended to be 17 years old to gain the victim’s trust.
If you or your child encounters a known sex offender on Facebook, report that person right away. Facebook has a special form for this. Despite Facebook's valiant efforts to rid its site of online predators, the system isn't foolproof. The site has banned convicted sex offenders from joining, and in 2008 all of the known sex offenders already on the site were removed. However, considering the case of Peter Chapman, predators are still finding ways to cheat the system. As mentioned earlier, you can limit privacy settings so that your child is directly interacting only with people they know--and more important, you can hide information such as your child's age, school, and full name from people who are not direct friends. Stress to your child the importance of avoiding people they do not know in real life. Even if the stranger's profile says that they are the same age as your child and that they go to a nearby school, the profile could be a decoy. Your child can report to Facebook any stranger who tries to contact them or engage in inappropriate activity. [b]Third-Party Applications [/b]

Many third-party applications on Facebook are aimed directly at teens--often they involve games, establishing crushes, or sprucing up profiles. But many kids don't quite grasp that these Facebook components are not actually created by Facebook, and that therefore they have different terms of service.

Be sure to explain to your kids that apps can't use their profile without permission, and make sure they know what they're allowing. Even worse, some of these external downloads could contain malware. Sunbelt Software has reported several suspicious Facebook scams, from a Texas Hold’em poker app containing adware to various phishing scams under similar disguises. Make sure you have an up-to-date antivirus program and ad-blocking software that could catch these threats. Talk to your kids about skimming through the terms of service and privacy policies for applications before they accept the download. Also advise them never to open a link posted on their wall from someone they don't know--it could point to a malicious site. [b]Monitoring Behavior [/b]

If you want to keep a more watchful eye on your kids' online behavior, you can use any of several effective tools. SafetyWeb is an online service geared toward parents who wish to keep tabs on what their kids are doing online. It checks across 45 different social networking sites to see if your child has a registered public profile, and it monitors those accounts for any potentially threatening activities. Monitored platforms include Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Twitter, and YouTube. It also recognizes LiveJournal as a social network and will monitor that site, but it has yet to include other blogging platforms such as Tumblr.
SafetyWeb monitors your child's online activity for you, so you're not in the dark about their accounts and activities. The service will notify you, the parent, if your child has posted anything potentially unsafe or inappropriate, within categories related to drugs and alcohol, sex, depression, profanity, and cyberbullying. That way, you can check your child's public activity without having to join every site or read every post they make. McGruff Safeguard software takes online monitoring a step further: It can record every move your child makes on the Internet, covering everything from instant-message logs to search terms on Google. Parents can keep a close eye on their children and discuss any behavior found to be dangerous or inappropriate. Whether you use a software monitoring tool or not, experts agree that having regular conversations with your children about their online usage is the most important element to keeping them safe and aware of the dangers of the Web.

TomTerrific0420
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Do your kids have to ‘Friend’ you on Facebook?

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:51 pm

For some parents just having passwords isn’t enough. They want to be their kid’s “friend” too.
A new study on social networking trends and practice found that 16
percent of teens say friending their parents was a precondition for
joining the social networking site.
From the AJC:
” ‘Facebook continues to be the new frontier in the
ever-evolving relationship between parent and child,’ said Kristen
Campbell of Kaplan Test Prep, which conducted the study.”
“Although roughly two-thirds of U.S. teenagers feel at ease having
their parents friend them on Facebook, for many teens getting friended
by their parents is like, OMG, sharing a tender moment with them in
public.”
“Andrea Shelton has personal experience with this when she posted “Spencer, you’re the man,” recently on his wall.”
“ ‘I thought it was cute,’ said Shelton, a resident of Buckhead. ‘He was mortified and I learned a lesson: lay low, mama.’…
“Shelton, who admittedly was late coming to the site, said that
friending children was some of the best advice she’d gotten.”“ ‘As much
as I’d like to withdraw from this cyberworld, we’ve been thrust into
it,’ she said.”
“As it were, Shelton and other parents said they’ve taken a more
proactive stance and counseled against engaging in course talk or
bulling, for instance, and warned that ‘whatever you put out there a
future employer can use it against you.’ ”
“ ‘So far so good,’ Shelton said. ‘My big worry is what if he has another cyber- life I don’t know about.’ ”
“Then in another breath she said that in a few years,
‘Facebook is going to seem like nothing compared to driving. I
understand my prayer life will increase at that moment.’ “
While Friending may seem like an easy solution, my resident Facebook
expert – Michael—says that through privacy settings and lists you can
keep certain people from seeing certain status updates or photos. He
says you can save the setting to click on hide from the same people
every time.
The AJC story reports:
“The study found that 65 percent of teens “are not hiding
and that is positive,” said Campbell, an executive director at the
company that develops college prep programs.”
“A separate survey of 973 high school students reported that of teens
who said their parents were on Facebook, 56 percent provided their
parents with full profile access — status updates, party photos and all
— than with no access at all. Only 9 percent of teens gave their
parents limited access. (The survey was conducted by e-mail of 2,313
Kaplan Test Prep students who took the SAT and/or ACT between June 2010 and December 2010”….
I recently Friended my favorite babysitter who went off to college
this year. I didn’t ask her at the beginning of the year because I
didn’t want her thinking the creepy 38-year-old lady is being a busy
body. But she called me over Christmas break to check in and we had a
lovely hour-long talk, and I wanted to show her photos of the “baby” so I
just Friended her and she accepted. It is nice to be able to talk with
her and for her to see my photos of the kids. I am helping her with some
career contacts so Facebook makes that easier. I do like looking at her
photos from college. They make me wistful. Nothing bad going on at all –
she’s such a good girl.
I am also on Facebook with a 20-year-old friend who is a nanny for
some kids at our school. (She texts me a lot so I am learning about
texting from her.) Her posts and photos are all benign but what I have
noticed is that none of her friends have any protection on their pages. I
can look at all their photos. They need to change their privacy
settings.
So have you required your kids to be your “friend” on
Facebook? Why or why not? Do you comment on things? (Even at my age it’s
funny when moms comment on their kids’ pages. They always say crazy
things. I have one friend from high school whose mom is constantly
harassing him to call her. It makes me laugh. I am also Friends with a
lot of my friends’ moms on Facebook. I enjoy keeping in touch with the
moms I grew up around. I especially enjoy one of my college roommate’s
moms. She is always working on interesting things.)

http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2011/02/07/do-your-kids-have-to-friend-you-on-facebook/?cxntfid=blogs_momania

TomTerrific0420
Supreme Commander of the Universe With Cape AND Tights AND Fancy Headgear
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Sex offenders fight for right to use Facebook, LinkedIn

Post by mermaid55 on Thu May 31, 2012 6:14 am

Sex offenders fight for right to use Facebook, LinkedIn
Legal battles pit public outrage over sex crimes against guarantees of individual freedom

By Charles Wilson


updated 5/30/2012 5:02:19 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS — Registered sex offenders who have been banned from social networking websites are fighting back in the nation's courts, successfully challenging many of the restrictions as infringements on free speech and their right to participate in common online discussions.

The legal battles pit public outrage over sex crimes against cherished guarantees of individual freedom and the far-reaching communication changes brought by Facebook, LinkedIn and dozens of other sites.

"It's going to be really, really hard, I think, to write something that will achieve the state's purpose in protecting children online but not be restrictive enough to be unconstitutional," said Carolyn Atwell-Davis, director of legislative affairs at the Virginia-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Courts have long allowed states to place restrictions on convicted sex offenders who have completed their sentences, controlling where many of them live and work and requiring them to register with police. But the increasing use of social networks for everyday communication raises new, untested issues. The bans generally forbid offenders to join social networks or chat rooms or use instant-messaging programs — just a few of the online tools that civil liberties advocates say have become virtually indispensable to free speech.

After hearing challenges, federal judges in two states threw out laws or parts of laws that they deemed too stringent. In Nebraska, the decision allowed sex offenders to join social networks. And in Louisiana, a new law lets offenders use the Internet for shopping, reading news and exchanging email. A case filed against Indiana's law is under review.

Authorities insist the bans address a real problem: the need to protect children from pedophiles who prowl online hangouts visited by kids.

"It's hard to come up with an example of a sexual predator who doesn't use some form of social networking anymore," said Steve DeBrota, an assistant U.S. attorney in Indianapolis who prosecutes child sex crimes.

Ruthann Robson, a professor of constitutional law at the City University of New York, said the bans could eventually be taken up by the Supreme Court if the justices decide there's a constitutional question.

"If we think that the government can curtail sex offenders' rights without any connection to the actual crime, then it could become a blanket prohibition against anyone who is accused of a crime, no matter what the crime is," Robson said.

Supporters of the bans say they target repeat offenders such as a Maryland man charged with extorting a 16-year-old girl Indiana girl to perform sexual acts during video chats. He was free on bond when he was accused of doing the same thing to more underage girls.

Trevor J. Shea, 21, of Mechanicsburg, Md., was sentenced to 33 years in federal prison in January after pleading guilty to seven counts of production of child pornography.

Xavier Von Erck, founder of Perverted Justice Inc., a group devoted to exposing online sexual predators, said it doesn't make sense for judges to let pedophiles troll the Web for more victims but revoke the voting rights of people convicted of lesser crimes. He called that "judicial hypocrisy."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which is challenging Indiana's 2008 law, argues that it's unconstitutional to bar sex offenders who are no longer in prison or on probation from using basic online services.

"To broadly prohibit such a large group of persons from ever using these modern forms of communication is just something the First Amendment cannot tolerate," said Ken Falk, legal director of Indiana's ACLU chapter.

The case is scheduled for a court hearing Thursday. The main plaintiff, referred to in the suit only as "John Doe," was convicted on two counts of child exploitation in 2000 and released from prison in 2003, according to federal court documents.

The man cannot send questions to televised debates or comment on news stories on local websites because doing so requires a Facebook account, the ACLU contends. Neither can he communicate with his out-of-state family members using the social network or post his business profile on LinkedIn.

The plaintiff is also forbidden to supervise his teenage son's Internet use or investigate questionable friend requests sent to his child, the ACLU claims.

Prosecutors argue that social networking sites aren't the only forms of communication.

"The fact is that telephones still work. People including registered sex offenders may still congregate, discuss, debate and even demonstrate," Indiana Deputy Attorney General David Arthur wrote in a brief.

Television and radio are still widespread and offer numerous call-in shows. Newspapers still accept letters to the editor, he added.

The ACLU says precedent is on its side. The lawsuit cites a February ruling in Louisiana in which U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson found that the state's prohibition was too broad and "unreasonably restricts many ordinary activities that have become important to everyday life."

Louisiana lawmakers passed a new law this month that more narrowly defines what sites are prohibited. News and government sites, email services and online shopping are excluded from the new rules, as are photo-sharing and instant-messaging systems. The measure takes effect Aug. 1.

But courts continue to wrestle with the issue in Indiana and Nebraska, where a federal judge in 2009 blocked part of a law that included a social networking ban. A second legal challenge by an Omaha-area sex offender is set for trial in July.

"I think policymakers are struggling to come up with the right policy that makes sense," Atwell-Davis said. "There's no silver bullet."


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47619383/ns/technology_and_science-security/

mermaid55
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