Website’s Rights and Responsibilities – They are Far More Than ‘Fine Print’

It’s been a while since I looked at Facebook’s fine print, but knowing they recently made some adjustments I thought I’d check them out.

I’m favorably impressed. These are far clearer and more navigatable than when I last reviewed them. I was especially pleased with their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities page which clearly lays out the terms that every user is expected to abide by.

If you are a Facebook user and you haven’t read the responsibilities that you have agreed to adhere to, do so now. If you’re a parent or guardian of a minor and they use, or are hoping to use, Facebook, this is a must read-and-discuss document.

With privilege comes responsibility

Help youth understand that using any online service isn’t a ‘right’ its a privilege extended to them under very specific conditions laid out by the companies. Just because a service is free does not mean users are free to do what they’d like while on it.

In this case, it’s Facebook that grants users the opportunity to use their site provided users step up to the responsibility of doing so. Coupling the privilege and responsibility elements of website, or web service, is a critical cognitive step in developing socially responsible digital citizens.

It is a step that hasn’t been articulated clearly enough.

It begins with adults accepting responsibility

Though kids can exert a great deal of pressure, our responsibility as parents and caregivers is to model the behavior that will help minors in our care become fully capable, honest, mature adults in all aspects of their lives.

However, thousands (tens-of-thousands?) of parents who know their children are too young to use Facebook, or other sites with age restrictions, let them do so anyway. This sets the unfortunate precedent that accepting responsibility, or acting responsibly, is optional.

If youth are told they can blithely ignore the age requirement, why would they hesitate to ignore other requirements – like acting civilly towards other users or respecting copyrights?

Our collective online experiment is still in its infancy. How we set up behavioral expectations will cast long shadows.



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