EGUSD Digital Citizenship

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EGUSD Digital Citizenship

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Facebook’s new Messenger Kids app – for children under the age of 13

Facebook recently released a spin-off version of their Messenger app, designed specifically for children under the age of 13. Until now, Facebook has required users to be 13+ to create an account. Although Messenger Kids allows tweens into the world of Facebook Messenger, the program comes with built-in parental controls. Parents create the account and add new contacts for their children. After parents create their child’s account, Messenger Kids will instruct them to hand the device to their child so he/she can complete the setup. The child will be asked to select an app color and take a profile pic. Children are identified by first name only and they can’t delete any messages – only parents have that ability. This feature gives parents a window into any potential cyberbullying issue or other troubling concern, such as protecting personal information or preventing the spread of inappropriate content.  Parents will need to look at the child’s device in order to see messages; they won’t automatically receive copies or have access within their own accounts. If a child wants to chat with a friend from school, his/her parent would need to be Facebook friends with the parent of the other child. Both parents would then need to agree to the connection request. Parents won’t need to download a separate app, they can communicate with Messenger Kids users through their existing FB Messenger accounts.

Within a message, children can send “kid-appropriate” gifs, stickers, emojis and live filters. They can also access all photos and videos on the device they are using. Live video chats with approved contacts are also an option.

There seems to be some mixed messaging about whether or not Facebook is collecting data and what it will be used for – Common Sense Media cautions about Messenger Kids privacy policy. As always – we suggest reading any app’s privacy policy before downloading.

Link to Facebook Messenger Kids privacy policy

The release of the new Messenger Kids app has sparked many conversations about the age appropriateness of young children using mobile phones and social media. We always value app reviews and safety tips by Thomas Dodson of Above the Fray. Thomas and his team have presented their message during parent nights at several of our EGUSD high schools.

The topic of age appropriateness would make for a great debate and/or essay assignment. We would love to showcase your students thoughts and actions on this topic by featuring them as a guest blogger.

Below are a few articles – pros and cons –  to start classroom conversations:

New Facebook App for Children Ignites Debate Among Families – The New York Times

Facebook launches Messenger Kids app – but parents vet chat contacts – The Guardian

Facebook’s New Messenger App For Kids Is Here… Are You Ready? – Thomas Dodson, Above the Fray


Facebook now allows teens to go “public” with content

Teen Facebook users ages 13-17 now have the option to share photos, updates and comments with the general public on Facebook.

According to Facebook’s latest news update, teens are among the most active users of social media, ranging from civic engagement topics to their thoughts on a new movie. They want to be heard. In an attempt to appeal to the declining number of teens using Facebook, they’ve changed their privacy policy.  As of October 16, 2013, teens ages 13 through 17 now have the choice to post publicly on Facebook. All though the default when setting up a new account will now be “Friends only, ” teens now have the option to change that to “Public” under the new privacy settings.

When teens choose “Public” in the audience selector, they’ll see a reminder that the post can be seen by anyone, not just people they know, with an option to change the post’s privacy setting.

Facebook Privacy Screenshot
Source: Facebook

And if teens choose to continue posting publicly, they will get an additional reminder.

Facebook Privacy Screenshot
Source: Facebook

What this means for parents:

  • Strangers and companies collecting data for advertisers and marketing companies will be able to see select posts.
  • Strangers will also be able to “follow” teens they don’t know and see their public posts in the main news feed.
  • If teens change the audience of a post to share an update publicly, unless they use the audience selector to change their privacy setting back to “Friends,” all future posts will be public.
  • Facebook’s “Follow” feature now lets teens share posts, pictures and links with people they’re not friends with. Previously, minors were not able to turn on the “Follow” feature.

While minors can now opt to post updates, links and photos publicly — Facebook continues to protect some searchable information about minors, including their contact information, school and birthday.

Facebook is simply using the same privacy model that other competing social media sites (such as Twitter) already have in use. It’s important to continue to be vigilant when it comes to understanding the implications of privacy policy changes to any social media site.

Facebook – Shared Photo Albums

Facebook recently created a shared photo album feature to make it easier for users to share photos with others. Facebook began rolling out shared photo albums to a small group on Monday, August 26, and will expand to all English-speaking Facebook users before opening the feature to international users.

Photo of girl taking photo with her smartphone

When you create a new photo album in Facebook, you will now have the option to check a new “Make Shared Album” box. You can add up to 50 people to the album and each person can upload up to 200 photos. Every contributor can tag, edit and give captions to the photos they add.

Something to think about…

Something to think about when uploading photos to a shared album or social media sites in general – some people may not want their images or the images of their children shared with the world. Nowadays, when people take photos at parties and events, it’s pretty normal to hear the phrase “Please don’t put those on Facebook.” Unless people specifically tell you it’s O.K. to post their photos on Facebook when asked, your safest assumption would be that it is not O.K., especially when dealing with posting photos of  young children. If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of people posting photos of you or your children on Facebook, make sure you let family and friends know this. Everyone has a different opinion regarding privacy, so it’s possible other family and friends may not even realize you wouldn’t want your children’s photos to be shared on Facebook or other social media websites.

Shared Photo Album Privacy Settings

The Facebook shared album’s creator has the ability to decide who sees the photos by setting the privacy settings to just contributors, friends of contributors or public. If you’re a contributor, you can add photos but you won’t be able to adjust the privacy of the album. When you add contributors to an album, the album may be visible on their timelines. Keep in mind that anyone tagged in the photos and their friends may be able to view the album as well. When you tag someone, that photo will be shared with the person tagged and their friends.

What is tagging and how does it work?

A tag is a special kind of link. When you tag someone in Facebook, you create a link to their timeline. The post or photo you tag the person in may also be added to that person’s timeline. For example, you can tag a photo to show who’s in the photo or post a status update and say who you’re with. If you tag a friend in your status update, anyone who sees that update can click on your friend’s name and go to their timeline. Your status update may also show up on that friend’s timeline.

When you tag someone, they’ll be notified. Also, if you or a friend tags someone in your post and the post is set to “friends or more,” the post could be visible to the audience you selected, plus friends of the tagged person.

What is Facebook timeline review? How do you turn timeline review on?

Posts you’re tagged in can appear in your news feed, search and other places on Facebook. Timeline review is part of your activity log and lets you choose whether these photos or posts also appear on your timeline. When people you’re not friends with tag you in a post, they automatically go to timeline review. If you would also like to review tags by friends, you can turn on timeline review for tags from anyone:

  1. Click at the top right of any Facebook page and select Account Settings
  2. In the left column, click Timeline and Tagging
  3. Look for the setting “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline?” and click Edit to the far right
  4. Select Enabled from the dropdown menu

Reporting Photos & Videos That Violate Your Privacy Rights

Facebook provides people with ways to report photos and videos that they believe to be in violation of their privacy rights. Facebook states “We will remove photos and videos that you report as unauthorized if this is required by relevant privacy laws in your country, as long as the reported content involves you, your child (under 13) or another person for whom you are the legal representative or guardian.” Photos or videos involving anyone else will need to be reported by the individuals themselves.


Link to Facebook’s shared photo album FAQ’s

Link to Facebook’s image privacy rights information and reporting forms

Link to Facebook’s Family Safety Center


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