Monday, July 16, 2007

NBC Today Show says kids on Internet responsible for wrongdoing of others with their profiles


On the NBC Today Show (Monday July 16 2007), Internet safety expert Ruth Peters discussed the dangers to high school and college students and their families from personal profiles (especially photos) even for whitelisted sites that are supposed to be restricted in who can view them. (That’s automatically true with Facebook). As in the Miss New Jersey case, persons sometimes acquire material and post it anyway in other profiles, or even make up fake profiles.

Ms Peters suggested that parents supervise their kids’ sites and insist on knowing passwords. (She assumes that the parent pays for Internet access, but that may not always be true.) One point that she stressed is that other family members and home security could be compromised this way, and that the teenager will be held responsible for what is on his site even if other post harmful materials on it or hack into it. This gets into the anti-libertarian idea of being held responsible for the actions of others that is a bit of a rub. (When am I to be my brother's keeper? Always, say the Gospels!) But it also comes out of the “amateur” nature of user-generated content on the Internet.

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