In The News: White House Launches Anti-Bullying Site; Facebook and Formspring Announce Anti-Bullying Capabilities

In the news this week, the White House launched a new anti-bullying web site called This site provides resources to teens, parents and teachers, to help educate and prevent the effects of bullying on the nation’s youth. The site was launched this morning, on the first day of the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, by President Obama.

President Obama specifically cited the dangers of cyber-bullying, in his recorded message posted to Facebook. In the message, he said “We’re seeing how harmful [bullying] can be for our kids, especially when it follows them from their school to their phone to their computer screen.”

Facebook and Formspring Add New Anti-Bullying Capabilities

Timed in conjuction with the event, both Facebook and Formspring announced new features designed to combat cyber-bullying on their forums.

Facebook will offer “social reporting,” which will allow users to report offensive use of Profiles, Groups, Pages and Events. This adds to current capabilities which allow users to report offensive photos or Wall posts. Facebook also intends to offer educational videos and resources on cyber-bullying, along with teen discussion forums on the subject.

Formspring announced their work with MIT, to develop methods for detecting cyber-bullying behavior patterns in its forums.

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In The News: Preteen uses of Facebook worry parents

A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that preteen use of social network sites continues to increase:

  • 46% of online 12yos use social network sites, like Facebook
  • 62% of online 13yos use them

In a news report filed yesterday in the, Facebook safety spokesperson Nicky Jackson Colaco stated that keeping preteens off the site depends on parent participation.

“We believe that conversations about online safety should occur in the same way that parents discuss why wearing a seatbelt is important or why looking both ways before a child crosses the road is critical,” Colaco said.

No mention of COPPA appears in the news report. COPPA is the US act which requires that sites with children 12yo and younger must keep their data private, among other safety measures. Facebook does not comply with COPPA, which means that children under 13yo are not allowed to have profiles on the site. It is widely known, however, that 12yo children and younger very frequently do have profiles on Facebook. Some studies put the figure as high as 38% of all 12yos; others, like the Pew study, do not specify the exact social network site. However, as Facebook is the largest social network site on the Internet and growing, it is likely that a large percentage of the preteens cited in the Pew study are using Facebook.

Facebook has not provided any mechanism to verify the ages of its users, beyond asking for their birthdates at the time that a new profile is created. Young children get around this restriction simply by lying about their birth dates. Many times, young children do this with full parental knowledge and permission. One young child cited in the story uses his Facebook profile to play Farmville.

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Is Your Facebook Private and LinkedIn Public? “Likely to change in 2011″ Says One Expert

walking out the door

Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Greg Coyle, co-founder of, cites data from the 2010 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey to support his opinion, that Facebook profiles may go public in 2011.

Some of the data shared by Jobvite:

  • 83% of 600 surveyed employers will recruit in social networks this year
  • 46% will spend more on social recruiting
  • 36% will spend less on job boards
  • 80% review social profiles

Listed in the social media which companies use for recruiting? LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube, and MySpace – in that order.

What’s the surprise? Facebook ranks almost as high for recruiters, at 55%, as LinkedIn which is used 78% of the time.

As Coyle states, “The perceived wisdom on privacy has typically been to make your LinkIn page public but keep your Facebook page private.” He goes on to say, “I think that’s likely to change in 2011.”

Coyle explains that recruiters are looking at Facebook - and that if you want to make your best impression, keeping your Facebook profile private may be “unwise.”

What is MyWebCareer?

As mentioned, Coyle is co-founder of MyWebCareer, a free online service which offers to “discover, evaluate, and manage online data that may help your career prospects.” The service analyzes your online footprint – like your profiles, network, and search results – and gives you back a career score.

MyWebCareer compares its career score to a FICO or credit score. The idea is, you – and others – can use the score to judge how hirable you are. Mercifully for now, the MyWebCareer team promises to keep your score private unless you give them permission to share it.

MyWebCareer is currently in beta. The team there writes a blog on managing your online social footprint for career-minded individuals.

Impact on Youth

It would be interesting to know if MyWebCareer intends to introduce similar scoring mechanisms designed for college-minded teens. The footprint evaluation process it uses seems similar to Reputation Management tools, including and SocioClean. At a minimum, young people should keep in mind that their online footprint will be with them long after college – and likely help or hurt their prospects of landing that first job.


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