14 Years of Facebook: How the Security of Social Media has Changed
After being around for 14 years, Facebook has now obtained over 2 billion active monthly users. Every 60 seconds 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded. Do you know who can see what you share? A concern when Facebook was up and coming was how secure a user’s information was. Especially for parents monitoring their children. Another fear when social media was fresh was that anybody could try to contact you and, depending on what information you share, find you. Over recent years parents have been able to rest easy knowing their children are safe online, with Facebook adding so many easily accessed privacy settings and recently introducing the new Messenger Kids.
In Facebook’s early years nobody really knew how to keep their information safe online. Social sites didn’t give many options to keep things private. A typical parental approach, in my case anyway, was to ban it. Ban any type of social media. We’ve all been children, so we know that when you can’t have something it just becomes a fun way of trying to get it.
Nearly all social sites allow children aged 13 and over to join. But think about it, in a school where they share a playground with older kids who all have Facebook, it wouldn’t be so hard for an individual to fake their age to make their own profile and be included in the loop.
Born in the late 90’s I was lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by technology. This wasn’t so lucky for my mom. She realised she was going to be worrying about me every time she heard that screeching dial-up noise, because she found out about the Facebook profile I was hiding. What can people see? Who can contact you? How do I know you are safe? I didn’t know how to answer these questions. I didn’t know what information I was putting out there – I was 10. Every text box that asked for an address I would happily give it, any signup form requesting a contact number, I would provide without question.
Messenger Kids was launched in December of 2017 in the US, and a UK date is still to be confirmed. The app boasts to offer ‘more control for parents’, ‘safer and more fun video calls and messaging’ and that it is easy to use. One of the biggest Messenger Kids and main selling point is that parents fully control a child’s contacts. I seem to remember the 10-year-old me, who had every social media profile under the sun without mom knowing definitely wouldn’t be very happy with this app.
There’s no privacy, why would you want someone being able to see your conversations – not that these conversations were in any way unacceptable, but it’s a trust thing. Maybe Facebook has taken monitorisation a bit too far, are people even going to be interested in this app? Kids of any age are able to use it with their parent’s permission, if they’re going to be using a parent’s android or apple device anyway, in theory any app can be monitored.
With the progression of Facebook, new security features are available for users. Privacy settings are now very easily accessed, which can determine how other users can view your profile. On Facebook you can use the ‘view as’ profile tool to see how your privacy settings are paying off. Viewing as a public user lets you see how people you aren’t friends with can see your profile. You can also cap who can send you friend requests. Keeping it to ‘friends of friends’ will help keep your circle small and eliminate any random adds from half way around the world.
For security in a sense of keeping people physically safe it has one of the best features out there – ‘Safety Check’. In the sad event of a world disaster users are able to mark themselves as safe to let loved ones know they are okay. In 2015 8.5 million people were marked as safe after the earthquake in Nepal, and Facebook was used to donate $17 million in just one week, with Facebook itself giving $2 million. Even if you aren’t a Facebook fan, you have to admit it’s done extremely well.