Low level of protection for minor's privacy on social networks
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Deutsch: Soziale Netzwerke: Mangelnder Datenschutz für Kinder
Most social networks fail to provide an appropriate level of protection for minors' privacy says a report recently published by the European Commission on the implementation of "Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU", a self-regulatory agreement brokered by the Commission in 2009 to keep children safe online.
After several social networks have been tested on behalf of the European Commission during December 2010 and January 2011, the conclusion is that only two social networking sites (Bebo and MySpace) have default settings to make minors' profiles accessible only to their approved list of contacts and only 4 sites (Bebo, MySpace, Netlog and SchuelerVZ) make sure that minors can be contacted by default by friends only.
Appropriate safety information for minors is however provided by a majority of the 14 social networks tested, which also respond to requests for help and prevent minors' profiles from being searched via external search engines.
Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, has shown her concern and disappointment in this matter and said she would discuss with the companies and encourage them to use settings that better protect the teenagers using these sites. "I am disappointed that most social networking sites are failing to ensure that minors' profiles are accessible only to their approved contacts by default. I will be urging them to make a clear commitment to remedy this in a revised version of the self-regulatory framework we are currently discussing. This is not only to protect minors from unwanted contacts but also to protect their online reputation. Youngsters do not fully understand the consequences of disclosing too much of their personal lives online. Education and parental guidance are necessary, but we need to back these up with protection until youngsters can make decisions based on full awareness of the consequences," said Kroes.
A worrying fact is that even grown-ups are not very aware of how they should protect their privacy on the online social networks. According to a recent survey carried out by Harris Interactive on more than 2000 US adult subjects, almost 70% of users of social networking websites say they're concerned about security but most of them don't do much to protect themselves.
Digital Agenda: only two social networking sites protect privacy of minors'
profiles by default (21.06.2011)
Social network sites fail to protect minors: EU report (21.06.2011)
Social Networking: Survey finds gaps between user security concerns and