And another reminder of why teens should consider tightening their privacy settings and changing their behavior on Facebook.
I was catching up on the news yesterday and I saw something that was of particular interest (I thought) to parents of teenage girls, so I started writing the following:
“Have you given much thought to who your kids’ friends are on Facebook? Have you checked how many friends your daughter has on Facebook? The number might be telling, especially if you have a teen daughter, and a reason for concern when it comes to how Facebook pictures are being used.
There is an article on Daily Dot today that does and excellent job outlining how the subreddit R/FacebookCleavage is objectifying women and sometimes even underage girls, and also potentially putting them at risk.”
The article serves as a reminder to parents and teens that the people interested in teens’ Facebook pictures are not only their friends and family. As I was researching the article, a funny thing happened – the subreddit changed its rules. Previously, the subreddit’s rules stated that if users posted a pic of a girl known to be a minor, including her real name was forbidden. Now, all pictures of underage girls are forbidden (pictured at right). That changed yesterday, as far as I can tell. No doubt the change was a reaction to the Daily Dot article, and preempting follow up articles that were sure to come. While the world’s reaction time has tended to speed up, it’s especially true online.
The problem with R/FacebookCleavage is solved, but only partially. Facebook pictures will still be posted to Reddit, and it is still true that any of your Facebook “friends” can use your pictures any way they want.
Back to a point I was making earlier – if you have a teen on Facebook, you should check how many “friends” she has. If the number is greater than 200, it’s time for a talk if you haven’t had one already.
“Collecting” friends is not cool, and not particularly safe either. We’d argue that the average teenager does not have 200 real friends. There are lots of reasons why some teens will accept a friend request from almost anyone, but it’s mostly because people are keeping score. Having more friends is a clear signal to your peer group that you are popular, and for many teens, popularity is the name of the game.
Pursuing that popularity can be costly, if it means accepting friend requests from people that you barely know, or folks that will use your content in a way that is disparaging or humiliating.
Having tightly set privacy settings doesn’t completely solve the problem either. On Facebook, when answering the question, “Who can see my stuff?” in the privacy settings, “Friends” is the most private option other than locking your account down completely, in which case only you will be able to see what you post.
Facebook is safest when the only people in your friend circle are true friends and family that you trust. It might take some convincing to get your teen to agree to this, but it is well worth the effort.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.