facebook logoHave you given any thought to how to protect your child as they navigate the wilds of social networking?

This is something I have talked about numerous times on my personal blog, SeanPAune.com, and something I can’t help but wonder how many peopel actually think about it.  It came to my attention again today when Linda Furrier wrote an article on Furrier.org about how she had recently attended a panel at her child’s school about safety on Facebook that was even attended by an employee of that popular social network.  I will quote the most imporant section:

The event l was billed as an event to increase your knowledge of your kids’ cyber culture on Facebook. The Facebook employee panelist was informative enough, but I couldn’t help feel that he really didn’t “get it”. His youth was indicative of the Facebook employee culture, but I am guessing he has never worried about a child getting home safely or being stalked on the Internet.

Questions were answered relating to privacy settings & Facebook procedures for blocking inappropriate posts and or members. The slide show was informative, but didn’t really reach the heart of the matter. The high school principal spoke with us about how the administration disciplines kids who post inappropriately in the high school network. The two high school age panelists spoke to their methods of protecting and sharing their information on Facebook. Yes, interesting, but I still left the event feeling hungry for more parenting tools.

I was left wondering, who is monitoring cyberspace outside of school hours? Whose responsibility is it? Should Facebook default to the most restrictive privacy settings for minors? Wouldn’t restrictions to spreading networks be highly counter to their business goals. Is Facebook’s sharing and connecting utility and business growth plan in conflict with the best interest of the kids?

This is a common issue that I hear time and time again about parents wondering why more wasn’t done to protect their children while they are online.  I always pose the exact same reply, “Why didn’t YOU do more to protect your children?

I applaud this school for trying to educate parents, and I also applaud Mrs. Furrier for trying to get more educated on the subject, but I always wonder why people bring up the idea it is the social network’s responsibility to protect their children.  Why should the school even be involved in anything a child does off of school grounds?  The whole point is that you are ultimately responsible for what happens inside of your own home, and this includes how your children interact with the Internet.

There are some very simple steps you can follow to watch over your child is they wander through cyberspace:

  • The cheapest, and easiest, solution is no computer in their room.  If they have a computer in their room, simply don’t allow it to connect to the Internet.  Computers should be kept in a common room until you feel that your child has proven to be responsible enough to surf the Internet on their own.
  • Install parental control software that limits when they may access the computer, the Internet or even just specific sites.
  • Most routers have the ability to block access to certain sites based on address.

Essentially it all comes down to educating yourself and setting rules for Internet usage just like you do anything else in your house.  Your child’s safety is ultimately your responsibility, and not that of schools, the social networks or anyone else.  Always make sure that you are fully aware of what your child is doing online, no matter how much they may complain about it.

Categories: Facebook, Opinion, Social Networking   

Popular social network Facebook is saying they have passed 120 million users, but one has to wonder how many of those people are real.

According to CNet, Facebook added 30 million users between the end of July 2008 and the beginning of November 2008.  In addition to their existing 90 million users, this brings their total to 120 million, or approximately 2% of the Earth’s population.  This means that in the past three months, they added more users than they did in the entire first three months of the social network’s existence.

While this is all fascinating, I wonder how many of these users are either a) real people or b) users ever did more than sign up for an account.  I personally know of one person who has two accounts because she forgot her log in information, and after getting into her new account, she decided it wasn’t for her and never logged back in.  I know other people who have created multiple accounts just so they can do better on some of the 280,000 applications on the network, whether those be games, trivia ones or other things

In short, a lot of Facebook’s supposed $15 billion dollar market valuation is based on their number of users, so it is certainly in their interest to show high numbers of members, but people need to think about how many of those numbers are false.  This isn’t to say that Facebook is necessairly intentionally giving out numbers that are partially false, but it is something for investors and advertisers to consider before throwing any money Facebook’s way.  If even half of those users are real, though I imagine it is higher, 60 million active users would still not be anything to sneeze at.

Categories: Facebook, Social Networking   

It seems that is not just employers that are checking out social profiles when they are judging you.

We mentioned in Future Employers May Be Checking Your Facebook Account that some employers are now checking out social profiles when they consider whom to hire.  According to an article from the Chicago Tribune, college admissions officers are starting to do the same.

In a recent survey of admissions offices of prestigious schools, 10% of respondents said they have peeked at the profiles of incoming students on MySpace and Facebook.  Of those 10%, 38% said what they saw had a negative impact on respondents. While not a majority yet, it is still an important look into the future and how your online reputation can be as important as how you conduct yourself in person, if not more so. What you put online is available at all times for anyone in the world to see, and they should properly reflect who you are.

Will this become the trend for all schools? Doubtful. Christopher Watson, the dean of undergraduate admissions Northwestern University told the Chicago Tribune, “We consider Facebook and MySpace their personal space. It would feel somewhat like an invasion of privacy.”

It is just another lesson to consider more and more what you do put out there for public consumption about yourself.  Just as I do with my personal blog, i think about how it might be viewed by people down the line in my life.  I am making a public document about myself, and I think you do have to think about what you are putting out there.  If you don’t want to play it safe with your personal profile, always do consider making it private so that only the people you personally choose can see it.

Categories: Facebook, Social Networking   

A while back we ran an article entitled Is It Safe To Put Pictures On The Internet, well, it seems we were right, and this is something you need to consider.

In the original article we discussed how safe it was to post questionable pictures of yourself on your social networking profiles, and we gave some real world examples of how not showing caution had backfired on some people.  According to Computerworld, CareerBuilder.com recently conducted a survey of 31,000 employers and found that 22% of managers peruse social networking profiles prior to hiring, and another 9% are planning to do so.  This is in contrast to only 11% doing the same back in 2006.

So what are the top things they are looking for that might get you in trouble?

  • Information about alcohol or drug use (41% of managers said this was a top concern)
  • Inappropriate photos or information posted on a candidate’s page (40%)
  • Poor communication skills (29%)
  • Badmouthing of former employers or fellow employees (28%)
  • Inaccurate qualifications (27%)
  • Unprofessional screen names (22%)
  • Notes showing links to criminal behavior (21%)
  • Confidential information about past employers (19%)

Not all of the news was bad as some managers said strong social networking profiles had convinced them to hire some candidates, but some had also been rejected based on the above criteria.

The moral of the story is simple in that if you insist on posting questionable content, make your profile private so only friends you approve can see it.  If y our profile is public, make sure to scrub it clean, and leave it that way.

Categories: Facebook, Social Networking   

If you’re like every other Facebook user, you despise receiving invitations, and you hate hitting up your friends with them at the same time to get an application to do things for you. We’re going to cover how to deal with both sides of this problem for you today.

First off, as you can see in the image to the right, I receive an insane amount of application requests.  While not as bad as some, it is still an excessive amount of requests, and honestly, I never accept any of them.  I don’t like a cluttered profile, and if I want an application added to my account, then I go out and find it for myself.  It amazes me that more people don’t notice the “Ignore all” at the top of the requests column, but it is doubtful that Facebook wants you to.  As the name implies, you click that simple pair of words and all of those invitations will disappear.  Sure you could just never click them, but it does get annoying to see them all sitting there everytime you go in to deal with friend requests.

So how do you keep from doing this to your friends?  Quite often when you have an application, they want you to send out invitations to other members to get your results of a quiz, or unlock special features.  Called “Skip Forced Invites”, this is a bookmarklet which means you click on it, and while holding your left mouse button down, you drag it up to your toolbar.  Once there, you can just click it anytime you need to send invites and it makes Facebook think you sent the invites without actually doing it.

As the page says, Facebook no longer allows forced invite situations, but they do still allow them when you want to unlock more features or possibly earn points in a game application.  Once you get to the page where it asks you to spam your friends with invites, you click the bookmarklet and no friends get spammed with all of these annoying invitations.

Don’t get me wrong, I think applications are a great idea, but only when used responsibly, and I don’t really need to play Taxas Hold ‘Em on Facebook.

Categories: Facebook, Web 101   

jailbirdWith every social networking site encouraging you to post your pictures of yourself, it is up to you to you to use discretion in what you post, or it could come back to haunt you.

The latest case of someone using the poor choice of posting an image that will haunt them for years to come is Joshua Lipton, pictured here to the right. (image credit to Valleywag)  Mr. Lipton was on trial for hitting a woman while driving drunk.  Before his sentence was handed down, he chose to party in an orange prison jump suit that said “JAIL BIRD” on it.  The prosecutors found the image and the judge agreed this showed he had no remorse over the incident.  He got a prison sentence of two years for his actions.

While this may be an extreme case, it is a lesson in that you never know who may be looking at the images you post to your accounts on sites like MySpace and Facebook.  In May of 2007, a woman sued her college for $75.000 over their issues with an image she posted to her MySpace profile. The day before she was due to graduate with a degree in education, Millersville University determined that a photo of her in a pirate costume, drinking from a Mr. Goodbar cup at a Halloween party promoted underage drinking.  They decided this was not in accordance with their ethics, and her college career was wiped from existance over one picture.

In November 2007, Kevin Colvin, an intern at Anglo Irish Bank, told his employers on October 30th that he had to head home to New York City for a family crisis.  On November 1st, Mr. Colvin received the following email from one of his bosses:


Thanks for letting us know–hope everything is ok in New York. (cool wand)



It seems Mr. Colvin had lied and actually attended a Halloween party dressed as a fairy, complete with the wand his boss referred to.  He then posted an image to his Facebook account, and his bosses discovered it.

The basic rule of thumb is that you should only post pictures that have no chance of coming back to haunt you.  The only pictures I have ever posted of myself online have been from work events, portrait style or once when I had a full beard and I was asking people if they thought I should keep it.  Essentially you have to think of any images you post online as becoming public domain, no matter if your account is set to private or not.  Many celebrities with profiles have had them hacked and then had embarrassing images released to the world.

Basically, always think twice before posting an image online… and then always err on the side of caution.

Categories: Facebook, Web 101   

Social NetworkingThough we have discussed what social networking is, what exactly is the networking portion, and what purpose does it serve?

The picture to the right is an image I took using a Facebook application called Nexus.  Each dot in the picture represents one of my “friends” on the popular social networking site, and each line represents one person being friended to another besides myself.  As you can see, some people are connected to many others, while some have no other connections.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they have no other friends, we just don’t have any others in common with one another.

While all of this is great, the question becomes what you do with your “network”?  While some social sites such as LinkedIn promote the professional aspect of networking, most of them are merely about connecting with old friends, or people you currently work with.   It can be useful for self-promotion, such as with your own blog, or other personal type project, but for work advancement, it is not perfected yet.

How to expand this into something meaningful, or new leads for work or advancement… well, that’s still trying to be worked out.  Until then, enjoy catching up with your friends and family… and charts with dots and lines!

Categories: Facebook, What Is   
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