Bill Lets Parents Edit Children's FB Pages

A new state bill in the California State Senate could make social-networking sites like Facebook take down personal information and photos for account users under 18 and require more private settings.

The SB 242 was introduced by Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) and would require all security settings to default to private and charge up to $10,000 per violation, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The bill's language also states that social-networking sites would have to comply with parental requests to remove information or photos from their children's pages or accounts. The new bill "would require removal of that information regarding a user under 18 years of age upon request by the user’s parent, within 48 hours upon his or her request."

Facebook's response was anything but accommodating. "This legislation is a serious threat both to Facebook's business in California and to meaningful California consumers' choices about use of personal data," said spokesman Andrew Noyes.

I think the main problem stems from young people posting dubious photos and information on their Facebook wall or other social media without much regard for the consequences. Unfortunately, when someone is 16, the teenager may lack foresight that a picture of him or her drinking beer, half-naked, or a message saying, "I'm so wasted @work!"  could be problematic when he or she interviews to be an elementary school teacher. (Some 30-year-olds post the same things, so it can't all be blamed on youth.)

I also believe 48 hours is a tight and unrealistic deadline and parental requests shouldn't be higher priority than new security or network upgrades. The parental requests could also lead to excessive "pruning" of Facebook pages, where hyper-vigilant parents routinely contact Facebook every day to take down information.

This new bill isn't a winner, but perhaps it will push Facebook to be more responsive to user needs before it's legally required to be.

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