What Facebook’s Proposed New Rules Mean for Parents

Facebook published two proposed updates this week, to their Data Use Policy and their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. The proposed changes largely relate to what data they collect (from you or your child, the user) and how they use it. The “how they use it” part mainly relates to advertising.

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 10.26.46 AMWhat do parents of teens and pre teens need to know?

First, since Facebook is making these changes now, (I’m not sure I believe that these are merely “proposed” changes) it is a pretty good indication that there will be changes in the future. Any rights and privacy that your child has or expects now may go away at some point.

Second, Facebook points out that if a user posts content to Facebook, it is the same as emailing it to them. You or your child is giving content to them, not merely posting it.

“you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

Third, Facebook clearly states that they will give your information to advertisers, or allow advertisers to use it. They collect identifying information in addition to a user’s name and photos(s). They also collect such information as your IP address (including your location) and mobile phone number. Facebook claims that if they do supply advertisers with information about a user, they first remove personally identifying information. It is unclear how they define personally identifying information. How much information do you want advertisers to have about your child?

Fourth, registered sex offenders may be using Facebook. While Facebook’s terms prohibit sex offenders from joining, and it is relatively easy for a user to report a sex offender on the site, sex offenders could easily joining using an assumed identity. Furthermore, courts in Illinois and North Carolina have ruled this year that it is illegal to ban sex offenders from Facebook, further muddying the water.

Finally, setting or adjusting your privacy settings does not appear to be any easier or more user friendly under the proposed changes. It still will take some work to be private if that is your goal. According to Mashable, “privacy controls are still buried in at least six different menus.”

If your kid is under 13, she shouldn’t be on Facebook according to the site’s rules and COPPA guidelines (Read: What is COPPA and Why You Should Care). Whatever her age, keeping her privacy protected will still take some work, and is subject to changes. Advertisers want to target your kids based on what they like, where they check in and what they search for. Are you OK with that?


Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.

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