Published on: 12.02.10
Source: Press release European Commission
50% of European teenagers give out personal information on the web - according to an EU study - which can remain online forever and can be seen by anybody. At the Safer Internet Day the European Commission is passing a message to teenagers: "Think before you post!" It welcomed actions to protect children using social networking websites taken by the 20 companies who signed the Safer Social Networking Principles last year. Most of these companies have empowered minors to tackle online risks by making it easier to change privacy settings, block users or delete unwanted comments and content. Yet more needs to be done to protect children online, the Commission says. Less than half of social networking companies (40%) make profiles of under-18 users visible only to their friends by default and only one third replied to user reports asking for help.
'If we want children to think before they post, social networking companies should post the right information using the right language. Last year the European Commission urged companies to act, and I am glad that many have heeded this call," said EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding. "However I expect all companies to do more. Minors' profiles need to be set to private by default and questions or abuse reports have to receive quick and appropriate responses. The internet is now vital to our children, and it is the responsibility of all to make it safe.”At last year's Safer Internet Day, social networking companies recognised the need for young users - and their parents - to feel safe when socialising online and signed the Safer Social Networking Principles. These resulted from discussions set up by the European Commission in April 2008 with social networking sites, NGOs and researchers. 18 companies signed the Safer Social Networking Principles in February 2009 and were joined by another two in June 2009.
One year on, the Commission has published a report on the implementation of the Principles on the 25 sites run by the signatories - Arto, Bebo, Dailymotion, Facebook, Giovani.it, YouTube, Hyves, Windows Live, Xboxlive, Myspace, Nasza-klaza.pl, Netlog, One.lt, Piczo, Rate.ee, Skyrock, SchülerVZ StudiVZ MeinVZ, Habbo, IRC Galleria, Tuenti, Yahoo!Answers, Flickr, and Zap.lu.
Findings show that 19 out of 23 sites provide safety tips and information specifically targeted towards children and/or teenagers (this measure is non applicable for 2 services). This information is both easy to find and easy to understand on 14 sites.
The report also shows that most of the companies empower minors to deal with potential online risks and employ a safe approach to privacy by:
However, there has been less systematic implementation of other equally important measures designed to protect privacy: