Facebook has been criticised a lot this week for what many perceived as a privacy breach. Users thought they began noticing ‘private messages’ from 2008 and 2009 appearing on their timelines. Facebook denies these claims and states that the messages are simply wall posts that have a different appearance because they were created with an older version of Facebook without the ability to ‘like’ or ‘comment’ (in Mann, McNeill & Atkin, 2012, para.7).
Despite Facebook’s denial, many users still believe they have found evidence of a breach.
Many people panicked when they realised something they possibly shouldn’t have said can now be seen by anyone who can access their Facebook timelines. This incident begs the question – what happens when private turns public?
How much information does your child put on their social media accounts? It is one thing to teach them not to divulge too much information on a private account, but have you thought about what else would be available if all the privacy settings were to suddenly disappear and leave everything in the public’s eye?
It is a good idea to teach children to think about the information they put onto social media as being completely public. This will ensure they think carefully before they type or upload a photo.
A permanent record
All friends have little arguments between themselves, but what if they moaned about it with someone and it was recorded and played back to the friend in question? How would they feel if that friend was able to hear it? How would they feel if a future employer was able to access their gossipy conversations? How would they feel if their future children knew everything they got up to as teenagers? … “What on earth were you doing in that photo, Dad?”
Social media is like a permanent recording. Everything on the Internet is persistent and while you may think your child’s account may have the strongest privacy settings available, technology is not 100% reliable. Things do go wrong.
Think before you type
A group of seventh grade students was asked to write a list of how they think they should behave online. I think you’ll find the list pretty impressive and I recommend showing it to your kids.
So let’s make sure our kids really know how to talk to each other on social media respectfully and imagine that one day everyone is going to read about it, because you never know, one day maybe they will.
Mann, A, McNeill, S, & Atkin, M,. (2012). Users vow to desert Facebook amid latest scandal. ABC News. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-04/users-vow-to-desert-facebook-amid-latest-privacy-scandal/4295964
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net