Bullying Awareness Week: Facebook Changes for Teens and New Cyberbullying Legislation on the Way

vancouver mom bloggerTeens and Facebook; online privacy and safety; child exploitation; and cyberbullying legislation – that’s what is on my mind during this Bullying Awareness Week

I recently received word from Facebook that there have been some key changes to the information I wrote about in July about safety and privacy for teens in my post Facebook Safety for You and Your Children: What You Should Know. And even more interesting is the proposed cyberbullying legislation introduced by the Government of Canada this week. 

What’s Different?

  • Effective October 2013, when kids aged 13 through 17 join Facebook, the audience of their posts will be set to the narrower audience of Friends instead of the previous default setting Friends of Friends.
  • However, teens are now be given the option to post content publicly as well. When posting content publicly, teens will be prompted with an education box from Facebook reminding them of what it means to share a post to a public audience.
  • For more information on these changes, visit the Facebook newsroom.

My Thoughts
What can I say? I think the changes are disappointing – I don’t think it is a good idea to open vulnerable teenagers’ Facebook posts to the public. I just can’t get too worked up about it right now since my kid is only 5 years old. Parents beware.

New Cyberbullying Legislation
On a more hopeful note, the new cyberbullying legislation that was introduced in the House of Commons this week will make some meaningful changes to the safety of Canadians online including:

  • Prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images;
  • Empowering a court to order the removal of intimate images from the Internet;
  • Permitting the court to order forfeiture of the computer, cell phone or other device used in the offence;
  • Providing for reimbursement to victims for costs incurred in removing the intimate image from the Internet or elsewhere; and
  • Empowering the court to make an order to prevent someone from distributing intimate images.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Peter MacKay says the Canadian government is committed to ensuring that our children are safe from online predators and from online exploitation.

“Cyberbullying goes far beyond schoolyard bullying and, in some cases, can cross the line into criminal activity. With the click of a computer mouse, a person can be victimized before the entire world. As we have seen far too often, such conduct can destroy lives. It clearly demands a stronger criminal justice response, and we intend to provide one.”

It’s about time for the government to step into the cyberbullying arena to reset the ultimate privacy button with this legislation. Predators and bullies beware.

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2 Responses to Bullying Awareness Week: Facebook Changes for Teens and New Cyberbullying Legislation on the Way

  1. Thank you for this update. I’ll share it further on social media. The news from Ottawa is encouraging. I mentally combine this news with the news that Google has responded to pressure from the UK to stop enabling the sharing of illegal images of children/youth. I saw a TV report recently that talked about online chat rooms and I’d like to see that topic be discussed more – in a so-called “viral” way. Some youth are visiting these chatrooms repeatedly and they’re sharing/experiencing more than just one image capture (that is later circulated). Most parents I know are unaware of this dark side of the Internet. Or if they are aware, they’re not aware of how easy it is to access and how many youth are accessing it. I shared a news clip recently on FB that includes youth talking about how prevalent the problem is. It’s encouraging that Facebook is contacting you. It would be more encouraging if they took note of common sense advise from informed users like yourself.

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