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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Facebook...Another Small Step in the Right Direction

Yesterday, Facebook introduced a set of new safety and security tools and resources as part of their newly redesigned Family Safety Center.  If you read this blog on a regular basis, I wrote an article about their first attempt at their Family Safety Center back in March.  It was a weak start with limited offerings but it was something.  This latest update shows a little more progress in the right direction.

The Facebook Family Safety Center features articles related to safety and privacy; statements about Facebook's safety philosophy; links to tools/resources for parents, teens, teachers, and law enforcement; as well as direct links to relevant Facebook pages, which can be “liked” for continuous updates.  Facebook also claims a downloadable guide for parents and teachers in the near future.

A statement posted on Facebook's blog said this:  "We also recently unveiled a new social reporting tool that allows people to notify a member of their community, in addition to Facebook, when they see something they don’t like.  Safety and child psychology experts tell us that online issues are frequently a reflection of what is happening offline. By encouraging people to seek help from friends, we hope that many of these situations can be resolved face to face. The impact has been encouraging, and we’re now expanding social reporting to other major sections of Facebook, including Profiles, Pages and Groups." Facebook says these reporting mechanisms are currently functional for photos and wall posts, but they plan to extend the functionality to Profiles, Groups, Pages, and events.  Facebook has also added some new security features like "Two Factor Authentication" which helps make sure the right person is accessing sensitive information.  

While I applaud this latest step by Facebook and am glad to see they are finally doing something (as opposed to years of not caring and doing nothing), I certainly think they could be doing more.  The updated Family Safety Center is still just a bunch of links to other places (kind of feels like they are just facilitating the passing of the buck).  Also, the new security features are something that have to be turned on, they aren't automatic.  In other words, all of these new offerings still put the final choice into the hands of the kids who are creating these Facebook pages and provide no authority or control to parents.  It's almost like giving a child a dangerous, addictive drug along with some pamphlets that tell them what to do in case of an overdose.  That's not really responsibility, that's a weak attempt at looking responsible.  BUT, I don't want to be too hard on Facebook.  Again, at least they look like they might be starting to care and I know nothing happens overnight.  Let's hope we see more good stuff out of them.

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