I love how Facebook has connected family, old friends, new friends, brands and organizations with customers but as a mom, I’m definitely concerned about Facebook’s new “Places” feature. Places is a location app like Foursquare and Gowalla which allows users to check in to various places (ei: restaurants, stores, gym, gas stations, etc) with their Smartphones.
Some of my friends know I love Foursquare and use it often; I enjoy the perks from checking in at various places, but it’s only visible to my friends on Foursquare and occasionally to my Facebook friends. But when it comes to a location base feature on a platform that attracts millions of kids, it’s a whole different story and it does raise some security issues for a couple of reasons:
1. There are a lot of young people like tweens and teens who use Facebook. The new Places feature allows Smartphone users to check in to places he or she is at, or if a child doesn’t have a Smartphone, no problem…he or she could use a friend’s phone to check themselves in. And these days kids younger and younger are sporting Smartphones.
Although the age requirement for Facebook is 13 and older, you and I know that there are a lot of kids on Facebook under 13 and many of them are probably not aware of the privacy issues with the new Places feature.
I know a lot of parents who are not involved in social networks and don’t feel the need to be on them because it’s not their generation; while that’s fine, we still need to be abreast and understand how these social sites operate in order to help keep our kids stay safe.
If parents are not up to speed with social networks and how the new location base app work and are not communicating with their kids or helping them with their privacy settings, then their whereabouts may be exposed to all of their friends if they check in somewhere.
So what’s wrong with letting all of their friends know their location? Well, some kids are friends with “friends of friends” and may not necessarily know them personally. So who really is this “friend of a friend?”
Now, by default, Places is set to “friends only” but even so, if your family is on an outing and unbeknown to you, he/she checks in somewhere and 100s of their friends know where your family is dinning, shopping, or hanging. I know my husband would not be for this. At all.
2. Another feature with Places, like tagging photos of one another on Facebook; if you or your kids checked in somewhere with a group of friends, they can tag you if you are their friend on Facebook. They can tag their friends, or their friend can tag your child showing that they were all at “this” particular location. Not cool. Disable that feature on your child’s privacy settings.
Parents, protect your kids. I’m concerned about our kid’s privacy. Some kids are not mature enough to use social networks; as we all know with media headlines in the past from cyber-bullying to cyber stalkers.
Unfortunately we live in a world where perverts and stalkers are waiting and preying on kids and this is just another opportunity or entry way for them to take advantage of.
Facebook is reaching more and more adult users in the past couple of years and the creators behind these apps are not thinking about our kid’s privacy, safety nor are they responsible for our kids. As parents, we are the ones ultimately responsible to guide and teach them how to navigate in the world where technology is ever growing.
Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Facebook to consider raising the age requirements for new users. Just a thought.
Here’s a video explaining the new Places feature by Facebook’s Founder: Mark Zuckerberg…