Just when you thought everything had been ‘over’ discussed about Facebook, more meat for the grinder. Following an IPO which most realize was not only over-hyped – the share price has dropped 30% – but is dogged by allegations of ‘selected’ information provisions to potential investors and possible insider trading.
Now Facebook is floating the idea of opening profiles to children. The current policy is that users must provide real names and personal data, and be 13 and older, otherwise accounts can be deleted or suspended, but as recent research has discovered a surprising number of under 13s actively use Facebook, with or without, parental permission and supervision.
A combined study by researchers from The University of California, Harvard, Northwestern University and Microsoft Research noted 72% of parents who knew their children were on Facebook also knew they joined before the age of 13. Other studies concluded “20 million minors are active on Facebook, 7.5 million younger than 13, and 5 million under 10 years old”. In the UK, 37% of 10-12 year old children used Facebook.
So, with so many children using social networks, what is the issue? US Federal Law, and similar regulations in the EU, prohibit social platforms from collecting data on under 13s without parental consent. As every post, message and search is essentially ‘collecting data’ Facebook and other social networks simply ban under 13s as gaining permission is too cumbersome. However, as Facebook especially is seeking to extend the brand, and certainly ‘lock-in’ young users before they become attached to other platforms, opening restricted ‘child’ accounts is being considered. These might have default permission settings restricting adverts, only allowing posts ‘friend to friend’ and giving parents final say on who they can connect to.
Did you know Facebook has a policy on user votes for privacy and setting changes? If 7000 people comment on a proposed policy change they have to hold a vote under their own corporate rules, and if more than 30% of users veto a change then Facebook can’t implement. Considering the number of current users, nearing 900 million, that’s a very high threshold actually making these ‘referendums’ the largest vote worldwide (beating the voting population of India).
As to this situation: Facebook has new privacy and information sharing proposals published in a document, and the vote allows users to accept the changes, or stick with the current policy.
You can view the documents, and vote your preference by logging into Facebook and going to the Site Governance page – at the top of that page, under the ‘Like’ button is the ‘Vote’ tab.
So what are some of the changes? Facebook needs to make money, obviously, and is looking to extend its advertising network ‘off platform’ to other sites and blogs. Think a similar system to Google ads on non-Google websites (ie: everywhere). This will give FB much more information on user habits as they browse the web and click on likes and ads on other websites.
Currently Facebook holds personal data for 180 days. The proposed changes “will retain data for as long as necessary to provide you services” which could certainly be longer than 180 days”
Easier search: More personal data will be publicly available (like your phone number and email address) so users can search, and find your profile, even if they don’t have your name.
Call it a ‘Zucker-Punch’? A study published on the day before the Facebook IPO UK digital marketing agency Greenlight published a study showing 44% of users have never clicked on an ad and 31% hardly ever click or like adverts or sponsored stories. That coincides with General Motors pulling a $10 million Facebook campaign for poor results, and a Reuters/Ipsos poll which shows the vast majority of users: 4 out of 5, have never bought a product or service – plus the time users spend on the platform is declining.
Countering that: the growth in active users continues, especially in developing countries like India and South America. With new advertising models on the horizon, such as promoted posts (similar to promoted Tweets) in the timeline, and rumours of mobile ads, Facebook might be able to offset the downturn in revenue, but it is still an uphill battle.
Yes, this is connected to Facebook as the Montreal Gazette published a photo of alleged murderer Luka Magnotta (or whatever his real name is) prominently holding a Labatt’s beer in his hand which was found on his Facebook account. Naturally Labatts is not exactly delighted with the brand connection to a suspect who gained world-wide noteriety – but can, or should, the company sue the Gazette over using the photo? And will Labatts regret forcing the issue now that the Twitter meme #NewLabattCampaign has gone viral?
and finally: #YYJChat is Tuesday at 7:30pm with special guest John Vickers, Executive Director Busker’s Festival. Join us on Twitter with your questions on the impact of the Arts in Greater Victoria. We also have a special announcement! #YYJChat will be live at Social Media Camp from Noon to 1pm of Friday June 8th – with a combined audio stream and tweet chat, and some very special guests!