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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Finnish teen fined for YouTube video

A 15-year-old student in Finland has been fined for posting a YouTube video "showing a karaoke performance of his teacher and for claiming she was a lunatic," the Associated Press reports. The video depicts his teacher singing karaoke at a party. The student said that he did it as a prank "and had not intended to insult the teacher." The video said the teacher was "a lunatic singing at the karaoke of the mental hospital." As a good a warning as any that there can be consequences from posting defaming photos and video, prank or not. It's always good to ask permission before uploading images of others. In Finland, as in most other countries, there can be legal consequences.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Social Web training future spies?

Who woulda thunk? Even the CIA is getting into social networking now (do parents need more evidence that this is not a passing fad?). The agency's "working on a social networking site so its spies can swap spycraft tips and enjoy some of that online/social fun that us civvies so love," according to It'll be called "A-Space" ("sadly not SpySpace," Pocket-Lint says), and "any employee of the US's 16 security agencies will be allowed to sign up and virtually network with their colleagues and counterparts." A way to attract new recruits? Maybe, but this article says "the CIA is apparently hoping that the site will help relationships between the agencies, and stop veils of secrecy from hindering work." Here's the Financial Times, which broke the story.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

'Old guys' on Facebook

You might find a 17-year-old's perspective on 40+-year-olds in social-networking sites as interesting as I did, so see this CNET piece by summer intern Sabena Suri. "Before I get to why I think most of the older folks hanging out on MySpace and Facebook are creepy, here (in the spirit of open-mindedness) are a few of the more semi-legitimate reasons they might be using the sites," she writes, pointing to six, except the last one is "Being just plain creepy." Concerning those, she says most teens "learn at a young age not to add friends they don't know personally," and - though it's "sometimes hard to distinguish the creeps from the nice older folks" - the creeps often try a little too hard. Posers do stand out and look pretty "lame," Sabena says. Here also, from Newsweek, are 20- or 30-somethings on "Why I love Facebook" and "Why I hate Facebook."

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Social-networking chief Cook

As far as I can tell, only one of the Top 10 social-networking sites were founded by teenagers and beta-tested in their high school, and that's the story with, which gets 3 million+ visitors a month, makes millions of dollars a year from advertising, and just received $4.1 million in venture capital. teenage entrepreneurialism seems to be more common every day, and both teenagers and parents might be interested in stories about how it happens. Seventeen-year-old Catherine Cook founded her new Jersey-based social-networking site with her older brother Dave (who's now in college; Catherine starts her freshman year shortly) because they were new at their high school, turned to the yearbook to find and meet new friends, and thought it'd be even better - much quicker and convenient - to have an online version, Catherine told CNET's Stefanie Olsen in a recent interview. Here's an earlier profile of Catherine in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Teen hackers mostly good

A lot of teens do some hacking, and - though their intentions aren't malicious, their hacks are illegal, USATODAY reports. Covering a report by psychologist Shirley McGuire at the American Psychological Association conference, the article says "a large minority of teenagers commit computer crimes such as hacking and software piracy, but it's done mostly out of curiosity and a hunger for excitement rather than wanting to cause trouble." McGuire found in a survey of some 4,800 San Diego-area high school students that 38% had copied software without permission; 18% went into someone's computer or Web site without permission, 16% have taken material from it; and 13% changed a computer system, file program or Web site without permission."

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Social shopping from back-to-school retailers

To lure more young customers, retailers are trying to make online shopping a more social experience. They're creating "elaborate online worlds that may have little to do with their products [and] employing video-sharing, social networking and even virtual reality to target the teenagers who drove sites like YouTube and Facebook to popularity," the Washington Post reports. Examples: At you can create your own avatar, or virtual self, and virtually try on Sears clothes; "Wal-Mart started a Facebook group about dorm-room style"; and J.C. Penney and American Eagle Outfitters will have new short films in their sites every week.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Anti-social networking: Europe

The European perspective on social networking sounds a whole like the US one, but Europe is pressing for multinational efforts to combat both adult-to-child crime and peer-to-peer bullying on the social Web. "With social networking sites exploding in growth, most young users are well aware of the risks and the seamy side of the territory," the International Herald Tribune reports. "But according to new surveys, many children and teens still cannot resist meeting strangers they have befriended online." The Herald Tribune reports that the Council of Europe, "which represents 46 countries including the United States," is pushing a global treaty that would criminalize grooming, where sometimes over long periods pedophiles manipulate children into meeting them for sex (for more on this, see "How to recognize grooming"). "The council adopted a draft convention last month and in October the treaty will be open for countries to sign." The European Union is, with about $90 million, supporting a three-year Internet-safety program with a strong focus on education about sexual grooming.

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Oz parents don't want phone ban

In spite of some incidents of phone-based bullying, parents in New South Wales, Australia, don't want schools to ban cellphones, Australian IT reports. In a six-month period to April this year, NSW government schools filed more than 25 reports to police about serious incidents [of violence] filmed by [students using] video-equipped phones." Still, the education minister there said that "such cases were in the minority and that most parents wanted their children to carry phones with them for safety reasons." The government, he added, had no plans to impose such a ban.

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