California bill allows parents to edit kids' Facebook profiles on request

In this day and age, parents are expected to take up more of an active parenting role for their children than was previously expected of them decades ago. You can thank technology and a gradual liberalization of society for that. In the days of your parents' childhood, the most your grandparents probably did was monitor the television programs and movies they were watching, and probably keeping a close eye on who they were calling on the family telephone.

Nowadays, children have the entire world at hand via the family computer, or their own computer. The Internet's an uncensored free-for-all with lots of undesirable content available, and undesirable eyes watching. "Net nanny" software can block off the former, but not necessarily the latter - and that's where good parenting fills in the void. A common tactic for parents would be demanding their children to tell them their passwords for all their accounts, just so no questionable communications are had.

What if they refuse to comply? Option one: bring out the wooden stick! (Oh wait. That's illegal now.) Option two: hold their electronics hostage until they comply. Or, you can thank Facebook if they happen to have an account there: a third option is to simply contact Facebook and demand certain edits be made to your liking. That is, if you live in California and this California bill goes through.

As reported on TechCrunch, this bill will force social networks to allow parents the ability to manipulate parts of their children's profiles, which includes changing their privacy settings to the highest level, and requesting specific text or pictures to be removed. If social networks do not comply with the request within 48 hours, they could be hit with a $10,000 fine per case.

The original version of the bill would have also made it illegal for any minor to post their home address or telephone number anywhere on a social networking site regardless of privacy settings. Expecting minors to not be able to share their own cell phone number with friends is a bit silly, and so the revised bill has dropped the age requirement, but still allows parents to request removal of this information.

While it's nice to give some parenting control back to the parents, it does create some serious consequences. What if divorced parents could wage "war" over their children and manipulate their pages to their liking? How do the parents prove to Facebook that they are indeed the parents of who they claim their children to be, without requiring too much personal information to be handed over? Facebook has already been known to act first before taking evidence into consideration.

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Let's see. Facebook terms of service say you need to be 13 to sign up.
Facebook terms of use say you may only sign up for one account.

Parents should have all of their children's online credentials until they are socially mature enough to start venturing out into the world on their own. For some this may be as old as 55.

Any child violating the terms of use should have 0 accounts. problem solved there.

It's not facebook's job to parent, that's the parents job. If you do not have contact with your children to make them change their own content, well that's tough cookies for you.

This bill is stupid and as such will probably pass.

Facebook shouldn't allow anyone to sign up on it without proof you're over the age of 18 anyway IMO. Let kids grow up outdoors and have a life outside of facebook a while to experience what is really going on.

I guess what they fail to remember is kids will have more than one account. They will have the one the parents see then they will have the one their friends see. My son thought he was smart, had two. Forgot that all I had to do was go to his friends list on his "parents" page, look up a friend, look at their friends and there was page number two. Bottomline, it is the parents responsibility to monitor their kids and submit control when needed. Will it be 100%, no but just the fact that you as a parent is taking an active role is enough in most cases to give your kid "pause" when they decide to do something.

Its good they are letting them do this. Its for the kids own well being anyway. Its not big brother or a nanny state its good parenting. Just like having a restricted access account on xbox live or WoW.

I'm not too worried about this law. Until your 18, you're your parents' property anyways. Ok, the divorce issue is a potential pitfall to this law, however when a kid is going through his/her parents' diciest, the last thing to worry about is the facebook profile

You are not really a property of your parents until the age 18, and although limited, you definitely have some rights. I wouldn't know how exactly it would work in California, however in the UK for instance, your right would go as far as refusal of treatment if you are above a certain age, and still under 18.

Who are these parents that need state help to monitor their children? It's like a kid cant get multiple accounts.... That just says you are a bad parent.

kabix said,
Who are these parents that need state help to monitor their children? It's like a kid cant get multiple accounts.... That just says you are a bad parent.

Are you a parent? I would attempt to get around my parents rules, is that not what kids do? It is not down to the level of parenting this comment is stupid

The parents' request would obviously have to come from an active, well-established (not brand new) Facebook account.
It would also be simple enough to make sure it comes from the same IP address most associated with the child's account. If you're not at the same address...you're obviously not the legal guardian.
Parents would probably also have to use a credit card number to prove their actual identity.

mizkitty said,

It would also be simple enough to make sure it comes from the same IP address most associated with the child's account. If you're not at the same address...you're obviously not the legal guardian.

Huh?? That might make sense if you were only talking about the computers within a home sharing a single internet connection, but you seem to be forgetting that most phones, tablets, and even many laptops have their own internet connections with a different IP address than the one that the home computer has, not to mention computers used at work, public hotspots, and school. Basing the ability to edit your child's Facebook account on the originating IP address would likely block most parents from doing this.

Stuff like this should be built to Facebook. Parents have the right to have control over their children's Facebook pages.

amon91 said,
Stuff like this should be built to Facebook. Parents have the right to have control over their children's Facebook pages.

Yeah except what about the flaws mentioned in the article, how do you verify that a certain person is someone else's parent, and what about divorced parents? Plus it may be a bit hard for facebook to comply with these requests if they are what they sound like, (eg. Parents sending and email to facebook), which would meant that facebook has to make a system that can find the post in question and delete it. I do agree with you though facebook should have had this built in from the start.