Understanding Privacy for Facebook and MySpace

Understanding Privacy for Facebook and MySpace
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Recently, the social networking website Facebook was in the news because of the privacy settings that every Facebook user has on their profile. The controversy was the because the site wasn’t very secure, allowing for others to view a profile page, despite whether the person knew the other. This of course was a problem if users list information on their page such as their home address or their cell phone.

This of course raised the question of whether or not the Internet has blurred the line keeping private details of our lives private. For parents or guardians of the majority of social network media users - teenagers and young adults - the question of which social site is better and safer for their child is always a present concern. In this article, we’ll look at which social site would set minds at ease - is Facebook safer than MySpace?

Is Facebook Safer than MySpace?

So is Facebook safer than MySpace?

That is a question that may be tougher to answer than ask. Both sites cater to a large variety of people, reaching millions of people of all ages throughout the world at large. Both sites are free to join, as long as the user is at least thirteen years of age, and offer a variety of games that can be played and the ability to respond to friends and family who are also on the site.

In determining the safety of social networking, the very meaning of safety should be looked at. This little word has different meanings to parents and to teenagers. For example, parent may find coarse or foul language to be unsafe for their child to view online, while teens and young adults wouldn’t find the use of ‘bad words’ to particularly dangerous. Under the term safety is risky or dangerous behavior, which can apply to both teens and adults.

Risky or dangerous behavior are doing things that have the potential of placing someone in harm’s way. For instance, placing your home address on either site is never a good idea at all, nor is placing messages in which you invite people for certain things, like “for a good time, call…”

One of the big things at the start of social networking was the fact that just about anyone could join either website, including sex offenders and others that were involved in criminal activity. Both sites have been taken to task over their privacy statements, usually resulting in changes that give a better description of what is expected of a user and what will happen when those rules are violated.

In general, the Facebook privacy statement is a little easier to understand than that of MySpace, but the overall point is that it is the USER’S responsibility to maintain and change their privacy settings in order to ensure they are sufficiently protected online. The trouble with this is that most users will run with the default settings or, in the case of Facebook recently, did not understand the functions of their privacy settings.

The important thing to keep in mind is that every individual is responsible for what they post or do not post on their respective profile pages. Parents should talk with their teen about what is appropriate to place in their profile; they should be discouraged from giving out phone numbers, addresses, and even locations unless they know that person in real life.