Could Google Buzz Sting Kids?

March 14, 2010

Interesting situation today made me think about Google Buzz and the privacy issues – which I didn’t really care too much about before.

I like to look at “local” posts to see if anything is going on, and there usually is not, but something caught my eye that made me want to jump in and say something.  A young girl posting something that appeared to be something that was meant to be private, but was public.

I initially wanted to just point this out and the exchange didn’t really go as hoped.

Yes, I guess 37 is almost like 40, so her friend got me there.  Turn down that music and get off my lawn!

Maybe I was intruding, but as a father of a girl who will one day be a teenager, felt that I was trying to be helpful.  Obviously talking to a teen, I expected such a response, but hopefully it made her think at least a little.

Google Buzz from Mobile seems to want to add your location and be public BY DEFAULT, so I felt there was a chance that it was an unknown to her.  I now worry about this in general.  Google Buzz was thrust into everyone’s inbox and probably does not look at age.  Supposedly kids under 13 are not “allowed” to have Gmail accounts, but I’ve never seen any kind of verification.

With my friend above, “lindsay”, who I would guess is between 13-16, what if I wasn’t trying to be helpful, but a predator?

I’ve seen enough of what this guy does to know there are some really bad people out there who would love to “follow” a young girl.  At what point does a young girl posting innocently, “My parents are gone and I’m bored and just hanging out…” become a risk?  How about when the exact GPS coordinates are attached and it’s public?  Yikes.

I like Buzz and think it’s a great service, but while the privacy of adults is one thing, protecting our kids is another thing altogether.  In my example above, not only was she flippant about it, but didn’t really care.  We don’t let 13 year olds drive cars because they’re not ready and we want to keep them (and us, of course) out of harm’s way.  Shouldn’t we start taking some of this approach with social networks?

Did I overstep my bounds?  Am I wrong?  Is this just the ranting of an “old” guy that’s, like, 40 or wat?

Posted via email from Vince.DeGeorge


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