Can Your Teen Shape Facebook's Privacy Policy?

Filed under: Media

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Your kids' privacy is very important. Credit: Getty Images

If your teens socialize online, you've probably had some anxious moments wondering who can see all the stuff they post. And if you've tried to understand your teens' favorite sites' privacy policies, you know that, for the most part, they're not written for the layman.

Part of the problem is that privacy policies encompass various aspects of privacy. There's the personal privacy your teen willingly and knowingly discloses in posts, comments and photos. Then, there's the personal privacy they give up unintentionally -- for example, when they "like" a certain band and are linked to it. Then, there's what's known as consumer privacy -- digital data companies collect in order to target advertising to your teens' interests.

Categorizing all of this is a monumental task, given the changing nature of the very concept of privacy. No one has taken more criticism for its lengthy and complicated privacy policy than Facebook. But now the company is trying to clarify things. And they're looking for feedback.

To better explain how it uses users' information, the company recently launched a draft privacy policy on its Site Governance page that you can actually review and comment on. The draft surfaces key user concerns -- including how Facebook uses your information, how other websites use your information and teen safety.

After the comment period, the company will go back to the drawing board to reorganize the information, rewrite it to be clearer, and attempt to be more transparent.

This is a great time to discuss with your teens what they think it means, what's OK to share and even what kind of digital footprint they're creating. Studies show teens whose parents monitor Internet use or browse the Internet with them show higher rates of privacy concerns than those whose parents don't.

Whether it's Club Penguin or Facebook, online socialization is part of the fabric of kids' and teens' lives. Along with all the fun stuff, teens need to understand that whatever they post is no longer private and can be used (sometimes in unflattering ways) by other people. Facebook is offering a unique opportunity to express concerns and think about privacy more deeply. We say, grab it.

Written by Caroline Knorr.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.