The Facebook Dangers You Don't See Are the Scariest

Jeanne Sager

FacebookHere I thought it was good news that kids were debarking from Facebook for Twitter to escape their parents. It turns out they can't move fast enough. The place where everyone and their mother hangs out is just getting your kid in trouble.

You think your kids are safe on Facebook if they lock their privacy settings up tight, and they're required to friend you, right? You keep track of their friend list, and you're patting themselves on the back, happy you've got safe kids. Isn't that sweet? Sorry to burst your bubble, but you're fooling yourself. THEIR Facebook page isn't the problem. It's everyone else's.

You can be their friend, and you'll never see them commenting on THEIR friend's page or entering their details in open events. In one week, a teenage friend forwarded three separate "open" events on Facebook, all set up by teens, all claiming "I lost my cell phone, give me your digits so I can fill it back up." Hey, it happens. But now for the real problem.

Each of these three events was loaded down with phone numbers, each one listed beside a kid's Facebook profile -- which usually shows their real name. Click on the kid's name, and even if their profile is marked private, they usually have at least a modicum of personal information. Hometown. Birth date. School. And now some weirdo -- whether it be a pedophile, a cyberstalker, or perhaps worst of all a telemarketer -- has their direct line. Smart, kids. Realllllly smart.

The problem is a kid's Facebook is only as private as his 50 or 200 friends keep it. If they have any open settings on their page, and your child is out there commenting, your kid just became a public Facebook entity. A teen in England was just prosecuted for leaving a comment on another person's Facebook -- because it was homophobic in nature. And let's not forget what happened to Willow Palin when she started using gay slurs on another person's page. They had no privacy settings, and her tomfoolery was opened to the world. Neither kid should have said what they did, but if they'd kept it on their own page and locked things up tight, they would have been a heckuva lot safer.

The same goes for your trusting kid. You've got their Facebook locked up tight, but it's time to teach your kids about Facebook privacy beyond their own page. Or just wait until their cellphone is loaded with strangers.

Then send them over to Twitter. No one expects privacy over there. Do they?

Image via west.m/Flickr

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