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Minors’ accounts in the net

November 27, 2011


Klout is a website that gives users a score depending on how influencial they are on social networks. This website gets information about individuals from public sources such as posts and followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare and so on in order to assign them a  score. It lifts information from thirteen separate social networks and creates profiles automatically. Nevertheless, this site is not able to figure out who among users’ networks of friends is a child and who is not and consequently it creates profiles of anyone in the net, including minors. As a result of this problem with Klout and the minors’ accounts, lots of parents have complained and Facebook is now investigating wether Klout follows or not its terms of service in harvesting information.  So, adults and minors should be aware of the fact that having an active digital social life means leaving your own digital footprints everywhere and dragging your online friends (that can be your own children) with you from site to site, even if you are not interested in.

Let’s take as an example the case of Maggie Leifer who is a mother, blogger and user of the social media. She has many accounts since she handles social media for an association of health care professionals. She has accounts in: Foursquare, WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Klout. However, what happened to her in October made her change her mind about some social networks and be more aware of the dangers of the net. The 28th of October, she was absolutely frightened when she discovered that there was an account of her 13-year-old son, Matthew, in her Klout. She asked him about the account but the boy told her that he had never set up a Klout account for himself. Finally, Maggie discovered that Klout had automatically created a page for her son and had assigned him a score through the information in Facebook. As Somini Sengupta, wrote in his article published in November 13th in The New York Times, Ms. Leifer, 43, claimed that:

 It freaked me out because these are my kids. It’s wrong. They shouldn’t be marketing to children.

So social networks users and especially minors, should be aware of the dangers of the net according to an article published by  Viviane Reding the 10th of February ,2010:

Roberta Angelilli, vice-president of the European Parliament and representative of the European Forum on the Rights of the Child, warned that many social networks allow easy access to information about underaged users, often simply by using a search engine.

But being aware of the dangers of the net could not be as effective as users and parents think and there are some webs that promote not only parents’ awareness but their behaviour towards what children do in the web. Some websites even give steps to help protect children’s privacy and safety when they’re using the computer. This is the case of the article in Microsoft that gives 4 steps in order to protect children in the web:

  • Step 1. Decide where your child can and can’t go on the Internet
  • Step 2: Increase your security and privacy
  • Step 3: Monitor where your kids go online
  • Step 4: Remind kids not to talk to strangers online
Apart from that we can also find several videos explianing how to protect children from online dangers, like this one uploaded by Montlick company:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-hUHKiVEgc%5D
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