Facebook can be a great resource for families and friends to connect and share the fun parts of life. But, like any tool, Facebook can be used incorrectly and even harmfully. Here are four things parents should know before their kids sign up.
1. It’s for ages 13 and up
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 lays out certain responsibilities websites have to protect the privacy of children under 13. It is illegal to collect personal information of children under 13 years without jumping through a few hoops (such as parental consent). To prevent cost, hassle, and possible legal liability, Facebook asks that its members be 13 years old.
Some parents might feel this rule is no big deal. However, it’s an effort to protect children online, and circumventing it puts Facebook in the position of acting illegally.
2. No written statement on your wall can deny Facebook the rights to the pictures you post
If you have a Facebook account, you may have seen a friend post a statement that went something like this: “As of (date) I do NOT give Facebook or any entitles associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or post, both from the past, in the present, or in the future. By this statement I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and Rome statute).
NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version if you do not publish the statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE you MUST copy and paste this. I will leave a comment so it will be easier to copy and paste.”
This statement has no legal power. The Facebook Terms of Service states:
“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).”
If you choose to open a Facebook account, you are bound by their Terms of Service. They are allowed to distribute anything you post (pictures, video, etc.). They probably won’t because people would likely stop using Facebook, and no one else really cares about your cat pictures anyway.
3. People who are not “friends” can send your children private messages
Anyone can send a private message to anyone else on Facebook. If the sender is a friend, the message will go in your main inbox. If the sender isn’t a friend, the message will probably go to your “Other” inbox.
Teach your children to never, ever talk to a stranger online, and make sure they know how to block any stranger who tries repeatedly to contact them.
4. Your kids can hide posts from you
Many parents require that their children add them as a condition of having a Facebook page. They think this will allow them to monitor what their child says and does online.
However, there are many ways for kids to keep their parents in the dark about their Facebook activities. Each post has a customizable privacy setting. A post can be visible to the public, to friends of friends, to friends only, to a certain group of friends only, or to only the poster. All the child has to do is choose a privacy setting for certain posts that excludes his or her parents.
As previously stated, Facebook also has a private message option. Only the sender and the recipient(s) can view private messages.
Never assume that you can see everything your child does on Facebook simply because he or she has added you as a friend. The only way to see all posts is to log in with his or her credentials.
Facebook is like any other social experience. There is a lot of opportunity for fun, and some opportunity for mischief. Parents should know the ins and outs of Facebook to intelligently talk to their kids about internet safety and online etiquette.
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