Internet : Commission Confirms Disappointment with Social Networks

European Social Policy, October 6, 2011 | Go to article overview

Internet : Commission Confirms Disappointment with Social Networks


Social networks continue to disappoint. After an initial series of 14 websites scrutinised in June, the European Commission finds, in a series of nine other sites, that only a small minority - two (Habbo Hotel and Xbox Live) - provide default settings that make the personal profiles of those under 18 accessible only to the people on their list of friends'. As a result, if minors do not take precautions, their profile is open to all.

It was a similar story in June when, out of the 14 sites examined, only the American sites Bebo and MySpace were the exception. Industry leader Facebook, criticised for problems of privacy violation, was no different. The Commission intends to act on the issue in an overall strategy aimed at making the internet safer for children by the end of the year.

Nonetheless, most sites in the latest series do provide age-appropriate information, advice and other educational content for minors. In addition, "seven sites responded to requests for help, a majority in less than a day," the Commission said.

Two sites (Dailymotion and Windows Live) ensure that, by default, minors can only be reached by their friends, both for public messages and private messages.

But there are other problems. On all the tested sites, anyone can ask to become a minor's friend. And on six of them, friends of a minor's friends have direct access to their profile.

NEW PRINCIPLES FOR EU

In general, this report looks at the implementation of the Safer social networking principles for the EU' - a 2009 voluntary agreement - by blogging (Skyrock) and gaming (Xbox Live) platforms, photo and video sharing platforms (YouTube, Dailymotion, Flickr), virtual worlds (Habbo Hotel, Stardoll), platforms that have some social networking functionalities (Windows Live) and platforms that allow the creation of personal profiles with the possibility of uploading blog entries, photos and updates (Yahoo! …

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