Facebook has a duty to monitor itself

DEBORAH COLEMAN

Published 14/09/2011|14:00

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AS BOB Dylan once said ' the times they are a changin' and parents, for one have all sorts of unprecedented issues to deal with. This week saw a new departure as a parent filed a law suit against Facebook for failing to do, frankly what he should have been doing himself-monitor his child's online activity.

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From what I have heard and read it appears that this child was posting inappropriate photos of herself on her page and had been contacted by a number of suspect individuals afterwards prompting a world of concern on the part of her father.

The way I see it, sites like Facebook have an obligation to monitor what is posted on the site but more importantly parents have a responsibility to be aware of what their little darlings are up to.

How many precocious teens push the boundaries set out by their parents every single day only to be firmly reminded that it is not acceptable?

It's in a child's nature to rebel against their parent but it is up to the parents to take charge of the matter and not to shove responsibility away.

The parent in question claims that his daughter opened a new Facebook page every time he got an old one removed-who pays for the internet, the computer, the phone? Hardly a 12 or 13 year old! Parents cannot blame the likes of Facebook for allowing their child to post lewd pictures and content.

Where was the basic moral teachings during childhood that teach a child that this is not something they should do? I know many young teens who wouldn't dream of putting up such content and not just because their parents would not approve. They have enough of their own moral backbone and maturity to understand the gravity of their actions.

The argument that this young girl in question has learning difficulties begs the question even more as to why her family did not keep a closer eye on her. If she did not understand the seriousness of the situation why was she allowed to continue online unsupervised where any number of predators could have made contact with her? She should have been better protected.

If every parent blamed someone else for their own mistakes then what sort of example would that set for younger generationsthat it's easier to cop out than stand up and take responsibility.

There is more than a little room for improvement in the way social networking sites are used to prevent abuse of services and threats to users, however where a child of 12 or 13 is concerned that parents should be more than capable of pulling the plug if they feel it is the right thing to do.

Parents are justified in their concern about these sites, however it is not enough to demand that they are better regulated. There must be a combined effort on the part of parents and service providers to ensure that a solution is agreed.

There were calls this week to have Facebook request passport numbers from those opening new accounts so their age could be monitored which is frankly ridiculous as IT savvy teens will be over this hurdle in an instant.

Bottom line-everyone including internet sites need to take a whole new approach, and fast or else this will be just the tip of the iceberg.

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