Monday, 10 October 2011

Protecting minors' privacy in social networking

As part of the Digital Agenda, the European Commission aims at enhancing consumers' trust in the Internet. One way to do this is, would be by reviewing protection of minors online from such risks as grooming (some child abusers will pose as children online and make arrangement to meet with them in person) or cyber-bullying (using the Internet to harm other people in a deliberate, repeated and hostile manner) (more in: Digital Agenda: social networks can do much more to protect minors' privacy). A report on the Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU focused partially on the protection granted to minors by social networking sites. 

The worrying finds included the following: 
  • only 2/9 social networking sites have default settings which make minors' personal profiles accessible only to their approved list of contacts;
  • all sites tested allow for anyone to send friend request to minors;
  • 6/9 sites allow friends of friends to access directly minors' profiles.

The good finds were, e.g.:
  • majority of sites gives youngsters age-appropriate safety information, guidance, etc.;
  • all sites provide shorter and more child-friendy version of their Terms of Use or Service.

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