Zuckerberg said he wants younger kids to be allowed on social networking sites like Facebook. Currently, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) mandates that websites that collect information about users (like Facebook does) aren’t allowed to sign on anyone under the age of 13. But Zuckerberg is determined to change this.
“That will be a fight we take on at some point,” he said. “My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age.”
But just how would Facebook’s social features be used by younger children?
“Because of the restrictions we haven’t even begun this learning process,” Zuckerberg said. “If they’re lifted then we’d start to learn what works. We’d take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe.”
Here are my first thoughts.
1. PESSIMISM: Of course Mark Zuckerberg wants kids on Facebook – Facebook is a advertising & trend analysis GOLD MINE dressed as a happy, friend-connecting social network. Kids are the largest licensing group, and advertisers would LOVE to get their hands on that kind of market.
So much for the ENTIRE POINT OF COPPA – which wasn’t created for your immediate privacy, but created to PROTECT CHILDREN FROM MARKETERS STEALING OR SWINDLING PII.
Also see: Facebook Forced to Address Legal Gray Area of Kids and Advertising from AdAge. http://adage.com/article/digital/facebook-forced-address-kids-advertising/227633/
2. FEAR: Oh, that’s a GREAT idea. Why not make more PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION ABOUT MINORS available? Tre sigh. Yes, education is VERY important – particularly about secret identities. But, children under the age of 13 DO NOT HAVE THE COGNITIVE CAPABILITIES TO BE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR PUBLIC PERSONA. Part of being young is that you’re protected and allowed to make mistakes – by allowing that on Facebook – a public platform that reaches far beyond the lunch room, and far beyond your mom telling your aunt about that stupid detention you got? BOO. Not ideal.
3. LOGISTICS & CONCERNS: MODERATION. SCALABILITY. COST. Even if Facebook DID man up and start pre-screening all content contributed by U13 sources, what a nightmare! Staff to cover something like that? Insane. And neither revenue nor cost efficient.
4. HOPE: Any sort of “educational program” that comes with U13 on Facebook would have to be an entire new entity. Think: Facebook Junior, profile training wheels. It would have to be limited, with tutorials and information, and educational guidance. Leverage the sort of YouTube content that SweetyHigh has created (worth checking out). But in no way, would Facebook be able to cruise right into allowing U13 without redesigning the fundamental/core use of Facebook.
4. REALITY: I deal EVERY SINGLE DAY with kid chat, and kid posts, and kid interactions, and behavior crises from U13. I worry about social networks for children that do NOT rely on fantastical role play or themed-content. Those two elements help protect direct attacks (or even mistaken, indirect attacks) on a sensitive and underdeveloped child by allowing creative persona & identity hiding (to a certain extent, of course – real friends playing in fantasy worlds blends that reality vs role play, and takes interaction to a different level). Children are still in the process of social learning. Social learning CAN be expanded – and I do applaud the idea of social network education… but tossing youth into the deep end, where there are daily Trojan attacks on accounts, stolen identity issues & account phishing, cyberbullying, advertising lures, and STRANGERS is not ideal. Think about it: not even normal, rational adults can successfully navigate Facebook accurately…
If there is a way for Zuckerberg to incorporate social networking education, with Facebook structure, I’m eager to see it – but there are quite a few MASSIVE problems in his path. And with this audience? Bowling through the ideals without proper guidance, understanding, or safety nets = not a safe agenda.
I hope Zuck collects his facts, has the necessary research concluded, and (excuse the phrase) gets his shizzz straight before he really dives into something like this. For as much as I applaud optimistic philosophy, I desire educated practicality.
This fine young man has a different type of impact on the community. He impacts more users … without his participation, about 2% of the community no longer participates. He does not impact the total oxygen of the community as much, in other words, he doesn’t impact the number of tweets or number of conversations. But he does bring along 2% of the community. And his impact lasts through the forecast cycle, meaning he impacts new participants as well.
This exercise can be run for every user in a community. We can easily forecast what impact each user has on the overall future of a community. By looking forward, we get to see what might happen, and we can take steps to change the future. When we simply look back into the past, we only measure what happened in the past.
In this simple example, when we remove just two users from a community of about four hundred weekly participants, we lose close to 8% of all future activity in this community. In spite of a ton of new users, these two folks, @michelehinojosa and @immeria, foster a wonderful and vibrant community. That’s a decent measure of influence, don’t you think?
Over the last year there have been THREE huge benefactors to understanding an audience that I feel like I can’t stress enough:
1. Avoiding the operational FAIL WHALE (oh man, do I have withheld rants on this)
2. Understanding that a competitive site in this industry must have diversity in everything (from gaming, to customizations, to approaching an audience)
3. SMART METRICS
For a few short minutes here, and I stress short, I simply must ramble about the importance of metrics and how our industry HAS to step to bat and start finding the value of users NOT just the abuse.
And when I say “our” industry – I mean specifically the CS, Moderation, and Community. We need to TOTALLY BFF-up our Metrics peeps… and if there aren’t metrics peeps at your biz, then you need to step up to bat and figure out enough of a base line understanding regarding metrics and analytics to be able to support what you do.
Why? WE’RE EXPENDABLE. That’s a lie. I know it, you know it, but there are many a board member who don’t understand why CS & Community & (more specifically) Moderation staffing/tools/practices are so important – POST launch, when the belt gets tighter and the big bucks are takin’ a bit longer to roll in.
We’re just people who manage people – anyone can do that… interns can do that, right? PUUUUUUUUUUUKE.
WRONG. UGh. Shudder. Frustration + fist at the sky with some sort of user engagement battle cry! Just because you have a background in marketing – that doesn’t mean you have that GUT understanding, nor ability to read a community. Marketing folks can spin statements and emphasize the value of advertising and approaching product, but it’s not the same […feeling another tangent coming on. Must jump off this tangent path, my apologies].
What was I talking about? Oh yes, Metrics. Analytics. Whatever you wanna call it – basically, this day and age those of us people-people need to have back up. Stories are fun for conferences and for nailing a point home. Leaderboard-esque insight into top players is great to show your front-line knowledge of the audience’s ability. Social media platforms and conversations are great for keeping the product within fingertips of users everyday conscious. But when it comes to number crunching – dude bettah getz some backup. For realzies.
So far, metrics have been great for game designers and registration flows. It’s been great for microtrans and heatmaps (which, may I say – I love me some well developed heatmaps).
Blargh – OKAY, I’m biting off more than I can blog-chew at the moment. I’m going to kinda filter through my metrics conversation from the big point (overall metrics and their importance), and wittle it down to SPECIFICALLY moderation + community necessity.
– Individuals who abuse the system / community / experience
– What is the individual abuse (on a case by case, report, basis)
– Brings questions of WHY individuals abuse: is it the lack of game? Is it the drive of the content?
– Is it a growing group behavior?
– What exactly is the abuse of this growing group behavior?
– Brings again the questions of WHY individuals abuse: is it the lack of game? Is it the drive of the content? Is it the lack of appropriate competitive interaction? CAN YOU FIX THIS?
– Individuals who represent the best of the community
– Individuals who engage from within
– Individuals who lead by example
– *Individuals who seem to be the best of the best, but actually become somewhat cancerous in their righteousness and maybe should be used as a best case
– Groups who lead by example
– Groups who promote desired community efforts
– Areas that promote desired goals for game or specific area
– Individuals or areas that can help promote the MONETARY VALUE OF UPGRADING (via microtrans or subscription)
Remember – you want to gently lure and entice users into becoming monetary assets… and not just monetary assests but SUPER USERS. For as gross as statement from a “purest” perspective as that is… YOU CANNOT RUN A GAME WITHOUT INCOME. Just can’t.
Why would you just use metrics for landscapes and game agendas, or finding bad users? Dude – it’s the day and age of community! Of social media! Own it.
BALANCING THOSE OF ABUSE AND VALUE
Just as this AWESOME article above points out – not all users are just “good” or just “bad”… Use metrics and analytics from:
– Chat (a filter that reads positive chat and associates percentages, a chat filter that reads abusive chat and associates separate percentages)
– Interactions (Community event item clicking and purchasing metrics, guild-grouping, chat submissions, logins, time spent online, friending, time spent in social areas, time spent in gaming areas, time spent multiplayer gaming/interacting, leaderboards, time spent in “home” areas customizing, etc)
– Friending – viral quality outside of game, as well as inside the game.
If you are in the MMO or VW space… I would SERIOUSLY suggest taking a moment to have a solid “think” regarding understanding the bookends of your community, and the elements that drive the bulk middle either direction over the course of their experience. The more you can automate that process for your moderations, customer service reps, and community managers – the stronger / swifter / and better the process will be for you!! You will still need the insights and stories and multisocialmediaextravaganzamadskillz of community pro’s – naturally. But you also need number crunching and proof of pudding products.
So, my dears, in this slightly confusing, probably ADD fueled post – my point is this:
Community and Moderation and CS folks… go rogue for a moment, totally ninja-BFF any metrics/analytics people on staff. Make tools or practices that will help you to find the value, find the abuse, and back it up with the best kind of numbers you can find… AND THEN use your mad community skills to help understand why numbers show what they show, and improve your audience, your product, and the WORLD.
Make sense? Hope so. If not, as always, leave a comment at the beep……
Planet Cazmo is going to partner with Fox’s Teen Choice 2010 awards and entertainment mogul Tony Mottola to create a custom virtual environment called the Virtual Teen Choice Beach Party. The special virtual environment will be directly accessible from a link on the Teen Choice Website. The Teen Choice 2010 awards will air August 9 at 8 EST on Fox Users will be able to visit the virtual beach party after casting their votes online.
In the Virtual Teen Choice Beach Party, users will be able to design an avatar and a virtual home. In the virtual world, users can chat, play mini-games, virtually dance, and even purchase virtual goods. One of the goods for sale will be a branded good shaped like the award show’s signature Teen Choice Surfboard. This won’t be the first virtual event Planet Cazmo has developed for a major brand or celebrity partner. Previous projects developed by Planet Cazmo were primarily virtual concerts or music-themed, though.
Okay… So, wow.
First, I do find it absolutely RAD that Planet Cazmo has broken the start-up, non-uber-brand IP curse and managed to score such a marketing bonanza as TEEN CHOICE AWARDS on Fox. That’s kinda huge. Brings in the eyeballs – aka, sudden brand awareness.
For the last two years I’ve watched Planet Cazmo score quite a few influential contracts with big music peeps… They’re freakin’ email machines – no one sends as many newsletters as this site… seriously. There is always something going on it seems.
The art is easy, not too complex. The world is expansive (almost too expansive, but they try to pack everyone into the same server- providing the PARTY! feel of busy-busy).
Again, I’m still floored by their marketing department and promotions… well played for such high profile awesomeness.
PROBLEM: I just logged in as a minor and was able to share “my” phone number (or, ya know, the Empire Carpet guy’s number, five eight eight two three zero zero), “my” address (or, ya know, the white house), amongst other things. Then I created another account, logged in, and watched myself say the same content all over again (aka, the public can read it, its not just author-only jedi-mind-trickin’).
At least they caught “shadows are as dark as holes” – but as holes, for as swarthy a curse as it is in kid land, is NOT A LEGAL PROBLEM.
I can’t believe I just logged in, approved my “child” via email plus, and then passed out faux-personal information. What the what?! AND THEY’RE GOING UBER-PUBLIC WITH A TV SPONSORSHIP! It makes me very, very nervous for them.
Talk about disappointed. I’ve been dealing with several companies lately that are looking to ensure that they’re sponsorships/partnerships/etc with youth virtual worlds are LOCKED DOWN and safe… why the heck didn’t Fox check into the legal nature of Planet Cazmo?
I’m still absolutely astounded that I could give addresses and phone numbers. Baffled, even.
Virtual worlds are online spaces where kids create avatars (kind of like cartoon characters) through which they communicate, socialize, learn, shop, play games, and generally express themselves. There are hundreds of virtual worlds on the Web aimed at users of all ages. Some aimed at young children have controlled text chat, “profanity filters” to block offensive or sexually related chat, and staff or contractors moderating user behavior – you’ll want to check for these safety features. Parents also need to know that there are worlds kids can find and access which are not designed for them.
As with all kids’ online experiences, the No. 1 safety practice is routine parent-child communication. Keeping it low-key and frequent helps our kids come to us when stuff comes up. The most likely risks in kids’ virtual worlds, just like on school playgrounds, are cyberbullying or peer harassment and social-circle drama – including clubby behavior and kids playing “teenager” and talking about “boyfriends,” “girlfriends,” “breakups,” etc. The latter escalates and gets more sexually charged as they head into middle-school age. Language filters help, but kids can be creative with workarounds (see below). The main thing you need to know is that virtual worlds are user-driven: Positive experiences depend on users’ behavior toward each other and how well the space is supervised. Here are some pointers for safe, constructive in-world experiences.
I truly suggest you head over to Connect Safely’s tips for navigating kid virtual worlds as a parent (and kid).
Anne Collier, esteemed author, is amazing and is always watching these area with her eagle eye and brilliance.
The trends and behaviors of kids online are always changing, and yet not changing at all. It’s like a tag cloud – there are all sorts of behaviors a foot and they’re always floating around… they just take turns in the “who gets to be the biggest issue”. It’s never a stale world, my friends – probably more cyclical than anything else, but there you have it… kids. Lol.
I can’t stress to you HOW IMPORTANT it is to understand many of the safety tips that Anne points out. SHARE THEM. Seriously…. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE SEVERELY UNDEREDUCATED or MISEDUCATED regarding the crazy world of web social media. It’s easy, it’s hard, its crazy, and it’s exciting, and all shades of each.
Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease pass that link to any / all of your friends with kids, working with kids, etc.
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