Friday, June 7, 2013

Privacy and responsibility

Since I have participated in several of their petitions, I get regular emails from about petitions they think I would be interested in signing. Usually, the topic is something I agree with. However, today's email seemed to be a little much, to me. There is a petition open for signatures against Instagram, wanting the default settings changed for minors opening an account.  The originators of the petition want the settings to be private accounts and geotagging turned off by default for users ages 13-17.

On the surface, it seems reasonable. Why not protect the children?

But, is it Instagram's responsibility? Shouldn't the parents of the minors be monitoring their kids' accounts or at the very least warn the kids of the dangers of publishing their home addresses for the world to see?

This petition also relies on the underage users to be honest about their ages when signing up. If you think that happens in general, take a look at Facebook. Their terms of service explicitly forbid anyone under age 13 from creating an account. How many kids younger than 13 have Facebook accounts, though? In 2012, it was approximately five million. Guess what? Kids lie about their age to get what they want.

In the end, I don't think Instagram should change anything, except possibly make it easier to turn off geotagging. If the parents are concerned, they should take the opportunity to BE a parent and deal with the issue, not pass the responsibility off onto the company.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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