Stephen Balkam comments on the changes to teens' privacy settings by Facebook, noting that Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani activist, would not have been able to use Facebook as a broad communication channel under the previous policy. Teens will now be able to share their posts with a broader audience, should they choose, but will also have a more limited default setting.
Stephen Balkam comments on the proposed bill by California legislators to give minors the legal right to scrub away their online indiscretions. The legislation puts the state in the middle of a turbulent debate over how best to protect children and their privacy on the Internet, and whether states should even be trying to tame the Web. "This is well-meaning legislation but there are concerns about it," said Stephen Balkam.
Stephen Balkam discusses tech companies' embrace of anti-bullying activity as a response following tragic circumstances. “It’s like a cycle,” he says. “I’d say it’s more like a spiral than reinventing the wheel every time. The newer app companies are more aware that safety, trust, and privacy will come to bite them if they don’t deal with it upfront.”
FOSI's family safety contracts are highlighted in this Denver Post piece, along with comments on the effectiveness of contracts from Jennifer Hanley, Director of Policy & Legal.
Stephen Balkam wrote this piece for Internet Safety Awareness Month for Verizon's Home and Family page. See how he recommends using June as "the time to start a midyear resolution," and discusses FOSI's Platform for Good initiative and ways that teens can take advantage of opportunities for positive interactions online.
Speaking on this panel for a Washington Post Live event, Stephen Balkam says it's important to know how you're portrayed online and gives tips for shaping your digital reputation.
"Every generation of teenagers has figured out a way of rebelling against their parents, or giving it back to 'the man.' What I think is unprecedented is the very 'man' and the system they want to rebel against can track them and find their digital footprints online," Mr. Balkam says. "In a sense, it's good that we can catch kids who are getting radicalized sooner than later, but by the same token, it's a challenge for kids to grow and develop, which is their job as a teenager, if they are being scrutinized too much."
Facebook is reconsidering its policy on graphic content after a violent video surfaced and was shared.
"Imagine how horrible for the victim, waking up and hearing about what happened via text and Twitter, and then how quickly it all spread, through the school and the community," says Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute. "And then it spreads nationally and internationally. We're talking about a reverberation that will last, frankly, the rest of her life."
"Kids are getting smartphones at younger and younger ages," Balkam said. "And what parents have to realize is that these iPhones and other devices are very powerful mobile computers."