Bullying and legislation

There’s an excellent article on Gizmodo today by Ashley Feinberg titled “Why California’s New Web-Wide Delete Button For Teens Won’t Work. In short, it gives two good reasons why a mandatory Internet-wide “erase” button for the internet as a mechanism to keep minors protected from bullying and other ills can’t be successful.

First, as Feinberg points out, not all sites are California’s to regulate, making compliance essentially impossible to demand. Second, and most important to the everyday user with connection to minors’ concerns, this same “protective” measure can also allow minors using bullying or abusive language to cover their tracks.  Bullying without leaving a paper trail, as it were.

There is no perfect system for regulating the behavior of others, underage or not. There are, however, some steps you can take to keep your minor safer:

  • Most social media sites limit profile creation to those above age 13 to avoid having to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Stand by that limitation and do not allow or assist your pre-teen in creating a social media profile. It will give you and her time to create household social media ground rules.
  • The FTC has a great publication called Talking with your kids about being online. Get it here. It deals more with predators than bullies, but I highly recommend checking it out before allowing your son or daughter online unattended.
  • Create her first profile page together. It doesn’t mean she won’t change it later, but it means you and she will both know the potential for what can be there–and that can help guide the discussions you may need to have later.
  • Make keeping you on her friends list until a certain age a prerequisite of starting a profile. That way you can monitor new friendships and relationships, sensitive photos and the like. It has the potential to feel and be intrusive, so make sure you’re only stepping in when something genuinely concerning occurs–and make sure to handle it offline. No need to embarrass your kids unnecessarily.
  • If you do find someone is imitating your child online, or is imitating someone else to deceive your child, handle it through the social media service.  DO NOT “give them a taste of their own medicine” or the like.  Many schools now have staff monitoring for social-media based problems, so you may have recourse there, as well.

Finally, remember that the benefits of having a digital-savvy kid far outweigh the possible negatives. Work with your child to help them understand those negative possibilities and what they can do to lessen their impact, rather than cutting your child off from the Internet completely.

Twitter Lists: Useless Extra or Nerdy Delight?

My feelings about Twitter lists are as changeable as this Sacramento’s fall weather. While the librarian in me loves being able to categorize and add resources into topic-specific lists, neither the the phone nor the desktop Twitter interface highlights lists enough to incorporate them into regular use. (Hint: if you’re surprised to hear that Twitter even offered a list function, check a Twitter super-user’s profile page to find some they’ve already compiled).

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If Twitter users were vigilant with their hashtag use (and even a Twitter lover like me isn’t), lists might be completely superfluous. Might. Regular hashtag use would allow better searching throughout twitter, and the need to find users who consistently tweeted on-topic about a certain subject would be less of an imperative (again, for those who knew where to find the function at all)–especially since it’s human to discuss more than one topic, making list useful for organizations, but maybe less so for individuals.

I create Twitter lists of partners for projects. Sometimes I make them public, and other times I keep them private–just as reference, so I’m not sharing exactly the same information, or so I can see how often they tend to tweet. From a personal standpoint, Twitter lists are completely valuable, and I totally recommend creating them to keep track of public efforts when there are many cooks in the kitchen.

What about you? Please leave a comment; I’d love to know if others find Twitter lists (public or private) helpful.

The privacy problem with posting photos in social media

Instagram logo

Instagram logo

I’ve been playing around more with Instagram lately. As usual, I’m intentionally late to the party, because I tend to be cautious and like to read up on things and wait for bugs and flaws to be uncovered first.  It’s been more than long enough now, so I’m finally diving in.

With anything involving photography, I rarely take pictures at home. The geolocational information in the metadata worries me, and I don’t trust myself to remember to strip it or turn of the settings before shooting…as I did the other night when my dog did something cute and I decided to use Instagram and post it on the spot. Luckily, I noticed a minute later when looking at a map of recent posts and fixed it.

Santa Please Stop Here sign

Santa Please Stop Here sign

The problem isn’t metadata; it’s us. We are either too lazy or too concerned with connecting to take steps like turning off location information for one picture.  While the safety hazards of saving that information can be slim–and in many cases help more than they harm– strangers can piece together maps of our common stomping grounds and when we’re likely to be there (or not be there) based on that information, which can be turned off in one click or removed after the fact if you forget.

Don’t live your life in fear of these what-ifs, but don’t chance it, either. Know where your location settings are in-app AND on your phone or tablet and use them.