Parents disapprove of current social networks privacy policies

Main source: http://gigaom.com/2010/10/08/parents-say-social-networks-dont-protect-childrens-privacy/

92% of parents feel that their children share too much online and the majority of parents don’t believe that current social networks do enough to protect the information their children are sharing on sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Foursquare.

On top of that, 8 out of 10 teenagers feel their friends share too much information online and even more think that these services need their permission to access this personal information. Studies have shown that as a whole, children are actually concerned about their privacy; this is also highlighted in an article by Danah Boyd (quoting Pew Research) here. But the current services don’t do enough to protect children, thereby making parents eternally concerned about their children using these current services.

The most important and telling statistic for us is this: “Should search engines and online social networking sites be able to share your physical location with other companies before you provide specific authorization? 14 percent said yes, 81 percent said no.” — GigaOm. Yet these services do to the nth degree; this is where the majority of the money comes from today (contextual and location based advertising), without this, these services wouldn’t be free. So, should they be free? Or are we willing to pay to keep our private information kept private??

We need a service that is designed specifically for families. One where parents are in complete control, yet it’s still a fun tool for children to communicate; a tool where children can earn the rights to access to different functionality because they’ve earned the trust of the parents and the service has earned the trust of the parents. It’s not that these current sites’ functionality is a bad thing, it’s that they don’t do enough to protect children; with all of this skepticism and invasions of privacy, are they really doing us a service at all?. Why can’t these services adapt to this obvious demand? These services weren’t built for children, and definitely not for families; they were built for college students (ie 20-30 year olds) and then decided to open to everyone. And there is nothing that can be logically done about this. If a service like Facebook were to suddenly impose restrictions from another account (say a parent’s), they would lose most teens and teens account for 10 million of Facebook’s U.S. users. I have a hard time believing that Facebook or any service would do this.

What we need to have is a service that is built for families first. Then, as children mature and become adults, they can make the choices for themselves — this is purely logical. Government agencies, and some very good family advocate organizations like Common Sense Media are stepping up and trying to raise awareness through a “Protect Our Privacy – Protect Our Kids Campaign” (among others) which we fully support. We need a service that does not share ANY information about it’s users (especially children) unless the user or parent/guardian approves. And these decision-makers need a totally transparent service that can and will report any usage of personal information to which they have been granted access to.

You can read more of the results from various surveys here.

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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