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School posts on Facebook could threaten student privacy

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By Joshua Rosenberg

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FB has ruined the world over!!

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How about the local newspaper running an article on some student achievement, whether it's a spelling bee, student built robot competition, sports event or drama production that shows images of the students and identifies them? Most newspapers feature student achievements prominently with photos. Now these papers in almost every case have on-line editions. Is this too a risk?

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The pursuit of zero risk and unnecessary levels of privacy is toxic and getting out of hand. TV now blurs everything from people's faces to brand names. We share things online and on social media, and as long as we are aware that we are doing that, it is fine. There are issues online, but solutions need to be appropriate and proportionate.

The issue with kids and social media has a more simple 'fix'.

There are three ages groups out there that most parents don't like to see mixing - kids, teens and adults. FB has a one-size fits all, 13+ approach that is a recipe for disaster. But when they suggested a children's FB, everyone panicked. Don't fear technology. Make it work.

Kids already use social media, so let's do it properly.

Start them off on Kid's FB (pre-teen). When they hit 13, their account gets bumped up to Teen FB status. When they hit the local age of majority, they graduate to full FB.

The first two come with default parental controls to monitor access and restrict content, and have tailored adverts that are regulated.

Full FB should have the option for users to self-censor what they see, in detail, with individual, communal and personalised filters. For the kids, their parents would be able to tweak standard age-based ones.

Kids could share photos with kids and teens with teens. Parents could monitor them. Adult users wouldn't see them unless parents sanctioned access for family members. Kids and teen accounts would need parental sanction to set up.

When you hit the age of majority, you get to self censor your own account, or not. Your choice. FB no longer has to censor it for you. Your parents no longer get oversight.

If a communal self-censorship filter was used by 10,000 users, and something borderline/iffy got through it, it could be flagged and, if a percentage agreed it should be blocked, it would be blocked from all who voluntarily shared the filter. The more users adopting a filter, the better it works.

Filters could be set up with regional, cultural, language-based or relgion-based blocks. Extra strength filters could be offered for specific hate crime issues like racism.

No adult user would have to use a filter, but they could if they wanted to, and could tweak any they implanted for their personal use. Filters could block words, content or users, or let specific content in, as users wish.

Democrats could block all content posted by Republicans and vice versa.

Everyone who wants to be in a safe bubble, can be.

Anyone who isn't bothered, can simply use the service without censorship.

This would allow parents the same oversight of their kids online as they have offline. Censorship would be elective, voluntary and personalised for every user. This would be first amendment compliant, as neither FB nor governments would be censoring anyone.

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