The world of Social Media has changed forever – again. That’s right, I know we’ve said it before, but this time I mean FOREVER. What can we credit with this permanent shift in Social thinking? Facebook Graph Search. If you don’t know what Graph Search is all about, I suggest you do a little online digging (also, welcome back from that rock you’ve been under). This is kind of a big deal.
You can now search Facebook for anything. Not anything like sports apparel stores or knitting groups, I mean ANYTHING.
Would you like to find the favorite sushi bar of your friends who have a dog and like country music? DONE.
How about the favorite furniture store of your friends’ friends, who also like Twitter and chocolate? DONE.
That’s right folks, Skynet approaches.
We all know there is an incomprehensible amount of data stored daily on Facebook, and now we can access a ton of it quickly. Most will use this power for good, but it’s no stretch of the imagination to see how others could use this information in disturbing ways. While Facebook did make the right move in disabling users under 18 from showing up in search results, parents are faced once again with the privacy issues debate.
The addition of Facebook Graph Search further demonstrates the ease and openness with which information can flow. As the parent of three beautiful children, it seems clear that I need to take the Social Media presence of my family as seriously as I do for the brands I represent.
Think of Social Media like any other life situation. A sane parent would not drop his or her kids off at Disney World unsupervised, so why would we let them navigate the Internet alone?
It’s not only about the dangers of online predators, kids themselves make honest mistakes. I have a 17-year-old son who was super excited when he got his driver’s license. In fact, he was so excited that he posted a picture of it on Facebook. Yep … his legal name, date of birth, address and license number for all the world to see. Luckily, both his mother and I take an active role in his online presence, and caught it within the first few minutes. I wonder how many other teenagers made the same mistake, but went uncorrected?
In my perfect world, the solution for monitoring our children online borrows from the Facebook Fan Page concept. In order to have a Fan Page, you must create one through your own personal profile. No fan page can go up without a real person behind it. The personal profile becomes an admin over the Fan Page, and is able to monitor all page activity. Imagine if you could create a Facebook page for your child in the same way.
This “Facebook Kid Page” would function like any other Facebook page, only with information and activity available in a dashboard for parents to monitor. You could see who views your child’s profile, what pictures your child is tagged in, and what your child posts after lights out. At the age of 18 (or when released by the parent), the profile automatically converts to a standard Facebook page.
I won’t pretend to know all the answers, but a solution like this seems to make sense. It also seems like a simple addition to the platform, seeing that the basic functionality already exists.
Facebook will lean on “privacy settings” as the reason why your data is safe, but let’s be honest; the walls of private information are breaking down. The only rational answer is for parents to get involved in both the physical and online presence of their children.