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Web Publishing and Kids

18 and partying... do you want to broadcast this?

Did you know that once your kids graduate high school or college, they're going to need to find a job? It's true! Did you also know that employers can be just as tech-savvy as your kids (or more so)?

Take this picture. You can see some girls having a "good time" while possibly illegally drinking underage. Let's say one of these girls is your daughter (we'll call her Suzie). Not thinking that it would come back to bite her, she posted this picture and caption on Myspace, Facebook, or her personal blog site. Fast forward a few years and Mr. Employer has Suzie's resume sitting on his desk. Wanting more than paper information, Mr. Employer does a quick web search and brings up Suzie's page with years worth of blog entries and pictures. Will he like what he sees?

It gets worse. Besides biting your kid in the butt, this can come back to bite you as well. Let's say she posts the following in her blog:

Suzie's Blog

Bummer! My parents are fighting again!

Posted: October, 10, 2004

This is SO LAME! I can't believe them!! Why do they always have to yell at each other? Just because my Mom smoked Dad's last joint… ugh!

Damn, Timmy is crying. He's just a baby for crying out loud! Of course he's going to cry when Mom and Dad are screaming at each other late at night. I better go get him so they don't take it out on him again.

Whether this post is based in truth or your kid is just "playing around", this kind of information could bring in law enforcement, child services, and who knows what other kinds of trouble. For example, what about the risk of drawing the attention of online predators?

The fears are well publicized based on a few exceptional cases: Someone finds your child through the Internet and does something bad to them. But according to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, the vast majority of real-life encounters of "Internet Friends" do not end in violence.. Stories of kids getting involved with older strangers usually involve teens (not younger kids) who voluntarily met them knowing their intentions. But it's hardly comforting to know that your 13 year old kid is in a "consensual" relationship with a 28 year old.

Whether consensual or not, the action is generally initiated by the predator and not your kid. Predators are going to "shop" online for information on likely targets and pick the ones that both match what they're looking for and then narrow it to the targets that are either especially interesting or especially vulnerable.

What to do about it

First teach them about Internet Safety including how to set up and use their social network profiles. But also make sure to Monitor their Internet and web service usage so that you can see problems before it's too late.

If you've only just discovered bad content online, it's not too late to do something about it. First, delete the data from any website under your control. As for ones that aren't in your control, check out these resources and the ones they point to as well:

  • How to check your online profile before you get a job – I could have put together tips for finding and handling your online profile, but they already did it so check out their article. One thing they didn't mention is a DMCA takedown notice. You can only use this for copyrighted works and not just stuff you find embarrassing. If you try it anyway, you're likely to anger the recipient and could find yourself the victim of the Streisand Effect.
  • How to create a positive online profile – This gives you advice on how to improve your online profile on purpose.
Remember that it's much, much harder to remove data once it's been posted (''you can't un-ring a bell'' as they say). Learn to be careful BEFORE you post and teach your kids the same.
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City in Montana Demands Your Login Details to be Hired

(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

This is so wrong, I barely know what to say. I sure hope this trend doesn't start to catch on, because a lot of people would give up the information when they're pressured instead of doing the right thing and refusing.

"Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc." the form reads. But Bozeman isn't simply interested in finding out where to look for potentially embarrassing personal details; the city wants full disclosure, since the form demands username and password information for each.

This is way worse than all those sickening social networking sites asking for your e-mail address password.

Update

Here is the contact information for the relevant people in the city if you want to ask them why they thought this would be a good idea. And just in case someone were to change the form, here's a copy of the original found on their website:
This is for real... they actually expect you to give up your account details!
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MySpace Protections Meaningless if Teens Don’t Use them

(Image used under: Fair Use doctrine)

Consumeraffairs.com did a study of whether they could locate teen girls on MySpace and the results aren't surprising.

By doing simple searches with no special tools or gimmicks, they were easily able to find profiles of girls that were set to public (meaning anyone could read them) that contained more than enough information to find and contact them or their parents.

Parents need to make sure they're involved and knowledgeable about what their kids are doing online while resisting the temptation to ban kids from the Internet completely.
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Facebook Sacrifices Its Users to Greed

(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

Facebook has been caught with a seriously nasty tracking and monitoring program that it's unleashed upon it's users.

Their new ad software broadcasts your current activities to your facebook friends. If you just bought a ticket to a concert, your friends might see an alert to that effect. If you just bought medication for your embarassing personal issue, they might see that too. But it gets worse:

Beacon will report back to Facebook on members' activities on third-party sites that participate in Beacon even if the users are logged off from Facebook and have declined having their activities broadcast to their Facebook friends.
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North Carolina’s Innovative MySpace Law

Social Networking Sites
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Ars Technica reports on a proposed law in NC that will require parents to sign up for social networking sites (like MySpace) and become age verified before their kids would be allowed to sign up.

This is probably the best way I've heard of to prevent under-age kids from signing up and had the added benefit that the parents will have to know that their kids are using the sites. That way, parents are held accountable too.

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Teens Using Myspace to Break Up

Breaking up with tech. Easier, but cold
(Image is used under the Pixabay license)

This is new.

Boyd writes: "By breaking up through MySpace comments, the heartbreaker is attempting to assert their view for everyone else to see so that they cannot be accused of saying something else in private."

Makes sense to me. Less emotionally involved, less likely to say or do something you'll regret. Still pretty cold though.

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