Facebook's Public Settings for Teens--Safeguards Required for Privacy, Datamining
By: Jeff Chester | Oct 17 2013
Yesterday's announcement is linked to Facebook's proposed new data terms of service, which we have asked the FTC to review. In its ToS proposal, Facebook wanted to declare that it had the right to use a teen's data in any way possible (that teens were no different than adults). Yesterday's change in fact does potentially give teens the same exposure that adults have on its platform. As marketers stealthily mine social media data, they will capture a teen's public posts. That data will help create more robust data profiles of teens to be used for targeting. If a teen posts publicly--about a brand or not--it's all available for marketers. Junk food and other companies have now been given a better opportunity by Facebook to target teens.
Facebook is being dishonest with parents and teens. Facebook is claiming they are giving them more options to protect their privacy. But in reality, they are making a teen's information more accessible, now that they have the option to post publicly. The new approach actually removes a safeguard that teens currently have--that they only can expose (share) their posts with friends of friends. Under Facebook's new plan, a teen can share their information with anyone on Facebook or the Internet.
For reporters, Facebook trotted out a number of groups that endorses its plan, but most are funded by them (and it wasn't disclosed to the reporter). In addition, Facebook told journalists it had spoken to teens in schools and got their ok (class dismissed today, so a Facebook exec can discuss fanning!)--so much for a scientific, research-based and independent review.
We hope Facebook--and other social media sites--will embrace meaningful data privacy and marketing safeguards for teens. They need to grapple with the growing research on cognitive and emotional adolescent development and the impact of their own marketing practices.
It's time for regulators--and those that care about global youth--to do what too many digital marketing executives have so far failed to address.