My Facebook Use
A Facebook position isn't easy. I have multiple positions on multiple different aspects of Facebook. I was in early adopter Facebook, I have been there from almost the beginning - I have a lot invested in my interactions via Facebook. I remember Facebook rolling out Facebook graph, the iOS phone app, messenger, the various redesigns, policy changes, and the announcement of the IPO. It has been an interesting journey through the development of the Facebook brand and product.
In short this post says: “Yes, I use Facebook, but please don't post photos of my kids, or of the inside of my house on Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram.”
A Facebook position is important, it helps us think about when and where it might be appropriate to use Facebook - weather as an individual, a business, or a large corporation. A Facebook position is going to be unique to every individual. In this post I will discuss it in three aspects. I run a small business, I run a personal blog, and I have kids (well an 11 month old daughter). In general, Facebook's terms of service is of some help to Facebook users in understanding some of Facebook's positions on what it wants to do with the data metadata and relationships between data that it gathers from its users.
I'm a big believer in personal privacy. Part of personal privacy I think is controlling for the connections between data points (the relationships between associated data), and also controlling for metadata.
In contrast to personal privacy and self revelation of personal data, Social privacy is a lot more difficult to control for, because other people make revelations about you that you may or may not appreciate. These revelations may be new data points or they may be new relationships between existing data points. For instance, in the Facebook world, a new data point might be a photo and a new relationship might be tagging someone in that photo and making that tag connect to that person’s profile.
One of Facebook's goals is to make it conducive and easy for people to share information about the other people that they know. So Facebook is engineered and designed to help create accurate metadata and relationships between data points among users.
Truth is though even though I am a big personal privacy advocate, I do like to share information with others, but I like to do so on my own terms. That is why when Facebook pushed out a new version of their iOS app which required users to let Facebook to have unlimited access to your phone's microphone, I deleted the app and disabled functionality from Facebook to my phone.
Because I am a long-time Facebook user I have a quite a network of personal and professional contacts from various time depths of my life on Facebook. It is to my advantage to leverage these contacts in the various personal and business dealings I have. That's why Becky and I use a business oriented Facebook page for updates about our work in Nigeria. I also connect Facebook with various blog post of mine from my independently run WordPress site. This allows me to connect with new and existing audiences via Facebook.
Facebook and kids
Facebook requires that one be 13 or older to have their own account. You can see the policy guidelines here: https://www.facebook.com/help/157793540954833/
As far as I can tell that is because there are certain US federal regulations about privacy for children that Facebook would have to comply with if it aloud younger people to create accounts. http://www.coppa.org
Some countries have a lower or higher age limit, Yet, other countries like Ireland have no specific age limit at all. There's an interesting discussion helping parents think through issues from an Irish national perspective here: http://www.webwise.ie/parents/a-guide-to-facebook-age-limits
Because others have lengthy and detailed discussions about age appropriateness and issues for young users of social to consider when using these complex platforms, I am not going to directly discuss those issues here.
For me is more important to understand the Facebook business model, and to ask: “How do I want to engage with that business model and how do I want to engage my children with that business model.”
For me I want to let my children choose to engage with the Facebook business model when they are old enough to independently think about the consequences. It does not mean that I won't discuss it with them or help them think it through, but I would rather them enter the marketplace of their own accord, rather than me inducing them in from birth.
This means for my children that I want to give them the option to put their personal information into the hands of another company's structured information set.
It doesn't mean that I don't believe in sharing photos of my kids (I do share photos through this blog and another website here: http://www.hughandbecky.org/photos/katja-paterson-2015/), it means that I don't believe the medium best suited for sharing those photos is Facebook. For me owning the distribution and connectivity platform means that if I want to remove the source image from the web I can. In contrast to Facebook if I want to remove content from Facebook I am not guaranteed that Facebook will actually remove that content. Facebook even acknowledges that my data and data about me may persist even after I delete my account. There are several good articles which give a rundown about Facebook's Terms of Service (TOS). One from the Huffington Post is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/facebook-terms-condition_n_5551965.html. (Because we all know that even reading the TOS of a platform we love can be confusing.)
My opinions about use of Facebook with my kids and property apply to WhatsApp, Instagram (link to TOS), and Facebook, which are all owned by Facebook.
Photos of Kids
I may be off my rocker, but I really think that parents have a responsibility to protect their kids. Part of that may be from the encroachment of social media companies (data collectors) into the personal lives of our kids (not to mention other powerful marketing forces that parents need to protect their kids from). I would also like to think that parents should have the privilege of approving the use of photos of their kids in all cases, although I realize that in public places, permission to photograph children in the United States might be considered a first amendment right (this often includes school sports games). A short bit of googling shows that there is different jurisdictions with different laws (discussion for the UK context), and there are also different protocols for different types of photos (see discussion 1, and discussion 2 ), such as the intended use of the photo, like commercial marketing. The complexity with respect to social media (beyond the persistence of personal data) is that The social media platform may apply a license to the photos allowing for commercial use. For a general overview of the topic consider looking at the wikipedia article for Photography and the law.