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Call for Facebook founder to keep children safe
A WEBSITE developer from the region has written an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, calling for young people to be better educated about digital privacy.
Simon Crisp, director of a web design company in Darlington, says a “Facebook lite” version of the social network would help youngsters prepare for online life.
The 40-year-old father of two advocates a system in which teenagers are invited to demonstrate their social media proficiency before they can access the full version of the website.
Mr Crisp was moved to write to Facebook’s founder in the wake of the ongoing debate over internet safety, which was ignited after the murder of Darlington student Ashleigh Hall in October 2009.
Sex offender Peter Chapman used Facebook to pose as a younger man and arrange to meet the teenager before raping and murdering her.
Mr Crisp said: “There are so many issues for young people to consider when using the internet – how to pick suitable passwords, what is appropriate to say on social networks and the information that they should share.
“I just feel that not enough is being done to help our children understand what digital privacy is.
“The Facebook privacy systems are so convoluted that even some adults find them difficult to use.
“I would like to see a proficiency test introduced, where young people can prove that they have certain knowledge and skills when it comes to social networking, similar to a driving test.”
His letter to Mr Zuckerberg said: “People should be encouraged and educated to use the internet safely, rather than forced into a digital ghetto, where too many people pretend that terrible things are not happening, no matter how small a percentage of users are actually affected.”
Facebook said there are no current plans to open up the site to children under the age of 13, and that 13 to 17-yearolds experience the site differently to adults.
The site said it worked hard to make Facebook a safe place, and placed value in proactively thinking about the best the way young people access it.