To Share or Not to Share

When we were growing up our parents told us that sharing was something good children did. Children who didn’t share were spoilt and would end up with no friends. Today, the more you share the more friends you are likely to have — on Facebook that is.

Facebook wants nothing more than for us – and that includes our children – to share not because sharing is kind but because it is good for the company’s bottom line.  This probably explains the recent launch of ‘frictionless sharing’ – or as some have called it ‘frictionless advertising’! As PC World explains essentially “all you have to do is authorise a new Facebook application” such as Spotify, The Guardian’s new Facebook app, or Yahoo news and then every time you read a news article online, or listen to a song your activity “will automatically be shared with your friends”. You now don’t even have to hit a ‘like’ button!

As I explain in Is Your Child Safe Online? Facebook’s default settings for teenagers are different to those that apply to adults -basic personal information such as name, networks and photos are public but posts are only shared with Facebook friends and also the friends of those friends. But as the New York Times reports, “a recent a recent Columbia University study of 65 college students found that 94 percent were sharing personal information on Facebook that they had not intended to make public.”

Quite often children – and a fair few adults too – don’t think before sharing! And this is something we should be warning our children against.

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