Who Controls Your Child on Facebook?

I hadn’t heard about the proposed SB 242 bill in California until reading about it on TechCrunch a few moments ago. As I quickly ran through the article, I prepared myself to see a whole lot of angry comments at the end. I wasn’t disappointed… people are angry. However, every single commenter is missing the bigger picture in my mind. How – exactly – is Facebook supposed to determine parental rights should they receive a takedown request?

As it is written, the bill would ensure that:

“A social networking Internet Web site shall remove the personal identifying information of a registered user in a timely manner upon his or her request. In the case of a registered user who identifies himself or herself as being under 18 years of age, the social networking Internet Web site shall also remove the information upon the request of a parent of the registered user.”

I understand where they are trying to go with this, really I do. The HUGE problem I see is that there is absolutely nothing written about ways in which “the social networking site” is supposed to figure out who the parents really are. Without exact guidelines, any person would be able to claim they are someone’s parent and demand that information be removed. Perhaps Johnny has divorced parents and the father isn’t allowed any rights at all. Should that father then be able to request Facebook remove something from the young man’s page? What about a teen who has no “parents,” and instead lives with grandma? Does that mean he can post whatever he likes, without the grandmother being able to do anything about it?

The bills as written begs for trouble. In order to make demands of this nature, there has to be clear-cut guidelines. There is simply far too much grey area here… too much room for abuse. I’ll go so far as to say it: there’s even potential there for stalking and harassment of minors. Katie could have a friend in high school who is out to “get” her for some reason. Said “friend” creates a new Facebook account and pretends to be Katie’s mom… do you see where I’m going? Where is the burden of PROOF? Do we even want to delve into the creepy factor here? I think not. You can figure that out for yourself.

I agree that there needs to be better ways to protect the privacy of teens on social networking sites. I disagree with all of the people screaming that parents need to parent their children better. If a parent cannot understand the complicated and convoluted privacy settings on Facebook, what hope do they have of keeping track of that of their child? Facebook – and sites like it – need to step up to the plate and make things much simpler on everyone involved.

3 thoughts on “Who Controls Your Child on Facebook?”

  1.  well written 🙂 and very good points. i just had my first daughter a couple months ago, really i have no idea where technology is going to take us in the future. I’m hoping she’ll turn out to be a geek like me *crosses fingers* and will allow her free reign of the comp., however, though it invades the privacy of my daughter I will be using a keylogger. not really caring too much what she says i’ll just scan for the usual scary words like “nude, love, meet” etc. as far as facebook and stuff is concerned… not horribly worried about it seeing as how I’m sure i’ll be 1 of her friends. on the downside of all this, what if the child makes another account that the parent doesn’t even know about (lol another reason for a keylogger XD) how would your average parents even know, to remove whatever information?

    1. If i was you i wouldn’t do that. If your daughter ever finds out that you have a keylogger on her computer she would get very mad at you. Give her some room for privacy. Like you never searched the internet for nude, love meet. 😉 She will have to find her own borders. Ofcourse you can warn her for the dangers on the web but don’t spy her! 😛

      This is just a tip 🙂
      Rohan 

  2.  I couldn’t join facebook until I was 18. As it wouldn’t let me join otherwise.Kids should not be on facebook full stop.

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