Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Teen social media tragedy highlights social media security problems as well as possible Section 230 issues

Section 230 concerns may well be raised again after the tragic self-inflicted death of Rebeca Sedwick near Winter Haven, FL after online bullying.

But the 14 year old girl arrested for cyberstalking denies that she made the Facebook post that led to the tragedy.  She claims her account was hacked.

It may be that someone else got her password, and there is certainly a case for Facebook’s initiating two-step sign on, as has Google.  Banks should do it, too.  But it’s more likely that she was on a public computer somewhere and left herself signed on.  Although her attorney says she claims she hadn’t been on Facebook at all.

The question as to whether service providers should share responsibility for harmful use of their sites is bound to come back again because of this case.  But here, it seems as though maybe site security was the issue, rather than censorship, as is usually the case when Section 230 gets discussed.
The CNN story is here.
CNN mentioned that there are many new sites which cater to teens besides Facebook, and that parents need to know what their kids do, but parents have a hard time keeping up.  Chris Cuomo on CNN suggested strengthening parental liability laws.  Many of these sites would have security issues.
Why do 12 and 13 year olds need to be on social media, anyway?  Why aren’t they learning to relate to one another in the real world first?  It’s dangerous if kids believe that their social standing depends on the count of social media “likes”. 
This case, however, needs to be followed, both from the viewpoint of security and possible changes in downstream liability laws in the future. 

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