Facebook teams up with attorneys general on safety campaign


The logo of social networking Web site Facebook is displayed on a computer screen in London, on Dec. 12, 2007. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)
April 15, 2013

Facebook and 19 state attorneys general announced they’re joining forces Monday to educate young people about the basics of online security.

Maryland state attorney general Doug Gansler, currently the president of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the attorneys general and Facebook will distribute public service announcements outlining how teens and their parents can control online information on Facebook and across the Web.

Facebook will post the announcements on its Facebook Safety page, while state attorneys general will do the same on their own Facebook pages and official Web sites. “We hope this campaign will encourage consumers to closely manage their privacy and these tools and tips will help provide a safer online experience,” Gansler said in a Facebook release. Facebook will also release a video answering top questions it has heard from teachers, parents and teens about online privacy, bullying and Internet safety. Those participating in the initiative will also distribute a tip sheet on what users can do to protect their online privacy.

Privacy advocate Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy and a critic of Facebook’s past privacy efforts, said he was not that impressed with Facebook’s latest initiative.

“Facebook’s practices regarding teens, especially its data collection and ad targeting, require an investigation—not just some glossy educational videos and tip sheets,” Chester said in a release Monday. “Gansler’s feel good effort fails to deliver what parents, teens and other Facebook users require: strong privacy safeguards giving the real control over their data.”

The company has been criticized for its approach to online privacy, with many users saying that they find the network’s privacy controls confusing. In 2011, Facebook settled a privacy complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and agreed to ask users for permission to access personal information and submit to regular privacy audits for 20 years.

Facebook has released several prominent privacy efforts in the past year to make privacy controls and settings more accessible to the company’s billion-strong user base. In December, the company redesigned its privacy controls in an attempt to clarify issues such as which user posts appear on their profile pages. Facebook also released a note in February specifically aimed at how changes to its search tool affected younger users in February.

(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)

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Instagram beauty contests worry parents, child privacy advocates

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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