Facebook, National Association of Attorneys General Launch Teen Safety Consumer-Education Program

By David Cohen 

Facebook launched another initiative aimed at keeping teens safe on the social network, teaming up with the National Association of Attorneys General on a consumer-education program aimed at teens and their parents, elements of which will be hosted on the Facebook Safety page.

Facebook offered more details on the campaign in a note on the Facebook Safety page:

The campaign consists of a few elements, all of which will be available on the Facebook Safety page:

  • “Ask the Safety Team Video” series. Over the past few years, we have traveled around the country, teaching educators, parents, and teens how to safely use our service. We’ve created a video series from our safety team that answers the questions we’re asked most during this events.
  • “What You Can Do to Control Your Information,” a tip sheet that offers the 10 top tools to control your information on Facebook.
  • State-specific public-service announcements with participating attorneys general and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

The NAAG said state-specific PSAs with Sandberg and 19 attorneys general would be distributed by Tuesday, and Sandberg said:

At Facebook, we work hard to make sure people understand how to control their information and stay safe online. We’re always looking for new partners in that endeavor. That’s why we’re thrilled to collaborate with the National Association of Attorneys General. We’re grateful for Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler’s leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working with him and attorneys general around the country. Together, we hope to ensure that young people make safe, smart, and responsible choices online.

Gansler, also president of the NAAG, announced the initiative Monday morning at his Presidential Initiative Summit, “Privacy in the Digital Age,” in National Harbor, Md., saying:

Teenagers and adults should know that there are tools to help protect their online privacy when they go on Facebook and other digital platforms. We hope this campaign will encourage consumers to closely manage their privacy and these tools and tips will help provide a safer online experience. Of course, attorneys general will continue to actively protect consumers’ online privacy, as well.

State laws need to be updated to reflect our modern era, in which the very nature of privacy and personal information is changing. Attorneys general have before us an extraordinary opportunity to reorient our enforcement and advocacy efforts toward the unique privacy challenges posed by the digital economy.

However, Center for Digital Democracy Executive Director Jeff Chester was skeptical about the announcement by Facebook and NAAG, saying:

Maryland AG Doug Gansler appears to be more interested in friending Mark Zuckerberg than working to protect teen privacy on Facebook. Facebook’s practices regarding teens, especially its data collection and ad targeting, require an investigation — not just some glossy educational videos and tip sheets. As president of the National Association of Attorneys General, Mr. Gansler should be working to really protect privacy on Facebook — instead of a PR effort designed to further his political career. Facebook is a complex and deliberately ever-expanding data collection octopus. Young people are the subject of powerful Facebook marketing campaigns pushing junk food and other questionable practices. Gansler’s feel-good effort fails to deliver what parents, teens, and other Facebook users require: strong privacy safeguards giving them real control over their data.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.