Teens, Be Aware of Facebook’s New Privacy Settings

Facebook has rolled out new privacy settings, making more of its users’ content searchable on the web. While the changes appear to be subtle, they have large implications on the future of Facebook and its users’ content. For teens, it’s important that they are aware of what the changes mean and how they can be affected by the new look and feel of Facebook.

As I mentioned, the changes are subtle. So the actual interface of Facebook won’t have noticeable changes. It’s what’s going on behind the scenes, to a certain extent, that parents and teens should be aware of. What Facebook aims to do is make its users’ profile content public by default. This is a large departure from the stance Facebook has previously taken with its default privacy settings, as Facebook was hailed as one of the most private social networks out there.

The upside is that Facebook still offers the privacy settings we’ve come to know and love–it’s just the default settings that have changed, dropping hints of an oncoming release of user data across the whole of the web. Make sure that teens are aware of the changes at Facebook, as more of their information may be made available to those on Facebook outside of their immediate friends, and eventually that information may be accessible to the entire web.

As teens are now growing up in a decidedly digital age, the ramifications of such public access to one’s past and present lives are still unknown. That means precautions need to be taken now in order to preserve their future safety.

For Facebook, the monetization of users’ accounts is impending–it’s a move that Facebook would eventually have to make if it wants to generate revenue from the free services it’s providing to users. See–nothing’s ever really free, is it?

I have a more in-depth look at Facebook’s possible perspective on the subject here, but I did want to make my readers aware of this, as several of you seem to appreciate my point of view on teen Internet usage.

Teen Girl Hides Facebook Date in Closet. For 8 Days.

A 13 year-old Detroit girl met a boy on Facebook and decided it would be a good idea to hide him in her closet. For 8 days. The boy, 19 years-old, was finally discovered by the girl’s mother at least a week after he first went into “hiding.”

There are so many issues with this particular circumstance that I don’t even know where to begin. Since very few details were released about this alarm-raising situation, I can only assume and comment so much. But I can’t help but to wonder how a barely-teen girl managed to get away with this. For at least a week.

The only other detail given was that the young girl admitted to having sex with the 19 year-old boy. Upon discovery the mother kept the boy in the house until police arrived, and he is being held on sexual misconduct charges. You see, the age of consent in the state of Michigan is 16. And three years is a long time to wait when you’re barely old enough to start high school. So you might as well just sit tight.

Girls, I know what you’re thinking. 19 years old doesn’t seem that bad, and meeting someone on Facebook is just like meeting someone at a high school football game. Only it’s not. Online social networks are great for keeping tabs on friends, looking at pictures of cute boys and virtually stalking them by constantly checking their status updates. They are not great, however, for finding people to meet in real life. Not when you’re only 13.

And moms, I know what you’re thinking. Facebook is a dangerous place for your teenage daughter to socialize, and it can lead to adverse behavior like sneaking boys into the house and hiding them in the closet. Well, that’s true, if your daughter is inclined to do these kinds of things. And that is a very scary thought.

There’s no real way to provide a resolution for the problem, because each situation is different. There’s no blanket answer on how to monitor or control teens’ actions on social networks such as Facebook. There’s also no real way of conveying the true dangers of meeting strangers in real life, based on initial contact that was made online.

All I can really say is pursuing a halfway decent relationship with your teen daughter is a good place to start. Parents are no longer naive to the ways of the online networking world, and ensuring that your teen daughter isn’t naive either is a necessity in today’s world. However you decide to handle these lessons from a parenting perspective is up to you as a parent, but teaching teens the etiquette of online socializing is a valuable lesson that will carry over into the workplace and beyond.

And feel free to check the kids’ closets every now and again. They’re perfect hiding places, you know.

image credit: xJenniferx

Is Facebook Feeling the Burden of Establishing Its Platform?

fbplatformSome upcoming changes on Facebook have raised a few concerns from developers, but users will probably give a sigh of relief. Not only is Facebook moving towards a more dictator-like policy with developer apps, but the company is also placing more limitations on application alerts.

The changes themselves will restrict applications’ ability to post in Facebook users’ notifications, which appear in the bottom left corner of your Facebook profile. Additionally, Facebook is reportedly tired of constantly updating its application policies and regulations, hence the move to a more subjective form of dealing with applications.

For developers, this means that they have less access to users. Several developers find that notifications are great ways to bring traffic back to their application, which is probably because notifications used to be restricted to Facebook alerts only, and they contain all of the important activity updates that pertain directly to you.

It’s understandable why users would be relieved with the updated terms, yet it’s easy to see why developers are worried about the ever-changing rules surrounding application interaction options within Facebook’s network. Changes on Facebook’s end typically means that developers are being further limited in some way, presenting new challenges at every turn of their Facebook-specific campaign.

What I found particularly interesting about these changes is the fact that Facebook is ultimately asking developers to seek other ways in which to interact with their users. Facebook’s decision to take a more subjective approach to developer apps coupled with the latest limitations for app alerts, I’m wondering if Facebook is starting to feel the burden of establishing a major platform standard.

As a company with a first mover advantage for socially integrated platforms, Facebook has been key in establishing standards for how similar platforms will work across the board. It’s platform has introduced a great deal of opportunity for the company as well as third party developers and marketers, as applications presented a new way in which to connect with users.

While the hope is that the recent Facebok changes will encourage developers to focus on quality interactions with users instead of the quantity of interactions, the fact remains that Facebook’s decisions ultimately have an effect on the monetization potential behind applications. This will trickle right back up to Facebook, as its ability to monetize its platform will be somewhat effected by this in the end. But the dedication to the users’ experience is a necessity for Facebook, and will likely help platform standards in the end.

Time will tell whether or not Facebook is handling its relationships with developers in the most ideal sense. Even as testing has gone on around a performance-based regulatory system surrounding an app’s ability to potentially spam users, spam always seems to sneak through anyway. Regardless of how Facebook feels about being a leader in the market, it will have to deal with its position one way or another. The ongoing tit-for-tat dance between spammier apps and Facebook won’t go away anytime soon.

What Comes After Facebook?

horseapoc

I came across a Facebook look-alike the other day and it reminded me of that era of constant clone creation, where every other site that was submitted for review seemed to be a carbon copy of MySpace, Facebook or Twitter. We don’t see such clones very often anymore, namely because there’s little purpose in creating a standalone destination site. It’s cheaper, faster and more efficient to build an application that runs on the platform of a larger, already established social network, such as Facebook.

In fact, Facebook has really set the standards for the integrated social network platform, as it enables developers to leverage users’ social graphs for gaining new users, creating interactive applications, and building brand recognition. You know, the true nature of viral online activity within the realm of absolute social networking.

So will we ever see a return to standalone social networking destination sites? The application route via integrated platforms has already proven itself as a business model. We all held our breath to see how developers, users and investors would respond to Facebook’s platform, and once applications started to receive funding and become acquisition targets, we had our proof of concept. From then on, we’ve seen the steady growth of other platforms created for advertising and monetizing applications within these integrated platforms, some of which are cross-network or network-agnostic. The current outcropping of virtual goods monetization only spurs the revenue-generating potential of integrated social network platforms, with Facebook still at the center of it all.
Continue reading