Looking to beef up its pro-privacy credentials, social media juggernaut Facebook is teaming with a major law enforcement group to promote smart sharing with an awareness campaign and new online tools.
The campaign will include a series of "Ask the Safety Team" videos, based on questions obtained by Facebook officials who have "traveled around the country, teaching educators, parents and teens how to safely use our service," the company announced Monday.
There's also a tip sheet on 10 top tools to control shared data titled "What You Can Do to Control Your Information." Both are available on Facebook's Safety page.
The push was announced by Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler during a Presidential Initiative Summit on "Privacy in the Digital Age" in National Harbor, Md. Gansler is president of the National Association of Attorneys General, which is partnering with Facebook on the campaign.
"Teenagers and adults should know there are tools to help protect their online privacy when they go on Facebook and other digital platforms," Gansler said. "We hope this campaign will encourage consumers to closely manage their privacy, and these tools and tips will help provide a safer online experience. Of course, attorneys general will continue to actively protect consumers' online privacy as well."
The campaign comes amid growing concern by parents about what their children are doing online. A November survey by he Pew Research Center of 802 U.S. parents and an equal number of mostly teens (12-17) found that 72 percent of parents are concerned about interaction online with people their children do not know, with some 53 percent of parents characterizing themselves as "very" concerned.
But will a push from adults have an impact on teen behavior (especially from a group whose acronym is NAAG)?
"Unfortunately lawyers may try but will not affect the behavior of teens," technology consultant Jeff Kagan told us. "Teens are invincible, or so they think."
A NAAG-ing Feeling
"In fact I don't think it will matter to adults either, unfortunately. After all, how many times have you read the pages of disclosure on every Web site you use? That's the problem."
Jules Polonetsky, director and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum, a group founded by technology companies, told us in an e-mail from the NAAG Summit that the group's focus is on target.
"If policymakers want to help educate, they need to go where people are and that means Facebook and other social media," Polonetsky said.
On Tuesday, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will join with 19 attorneys general in distributing state-specific public service announcements.
In announcing the campaign, Facebook said the "most important components" for online safety are "a real name culture, where people's actions are tied to their identity ; a set of ubiquitous reporting features, including social reporting tools [and] specific privacy settings for minors."