WARNING: Bad people use the Internet.
Apparently having a warning label on Facebook makes social networking safer, according to New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Because, gosh, before that parents just didn't realize that there were bad things on the Internet and that kids should be careful. I'm so glad they did something.
Sorry, I can't help but be sarcastic when I hear about a warning label on a website. But please don't get me wrong. The new statement on Facebook is a good thing. It will read: "Facebook cannot guarantee that its site is entirely free of illegal, offensive, pornographic or otherwise inappropriate material, or that its members will not encounter inappropriate or illegal conduct from other members."
What is even better is that Facebook will improve the way people can report complaints of nudity, pornography or unwelcome contacts. Facebook will address complaints within 24 hours, and then report back to the person who filed the complaint within three days, according to the Associated Press. (You can read the full AP story here.)
The AP also reports that Cuomo said of the warning statement: "It puts the parent on notice, frankly, so the parent makes the decision and the parent exercises his or her best judgment."
If parents didn't monitor their children's Internet habits before, I don't think this warning will change that, but hey, at least it is something. But other attorney generals are calling for Facebook to do more.
More? Social networking means there need to be freedoms for people to be social. And you can add as many privacy options as you want, but unfortunately there will always be people who will talk to strangers online and get themselves into trouble. The key is education on how to be safe, since you can not completely block out all strangers without spoiling the social network user experience.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said it is demanding that Facebook take actions to verify people's age and identity and require parental consent, as well as purge inappropriate content and put restrictions on what minors can access, according to the AP.
There's a story in today's Miami Herald about chat line crimes on the rise. (You can read it here.) Even without the Internet, people still get into trouble with meeting dangerous strangers by using phone party chat lines. Is there a warning on the call line? Perhaps something like, 'Hey folks, thanks for calling. But remember that someone you talk to could be a murderer and/or rapist.' I doubt there is, because sadly there are many ways to come into contact with bad people in this world, and not everything comes with a warning label.
If nothing else, at least this news will help bring more safety awareness to parents who don't monitor their children's Internet usage. And now apparently more action will be taken when there are reports of abuse on the site.