Friday, November 19, 2010

'SafeSocial' monitors children on social networks

The ‘’ subscription service uses an email address to track children online and alerts parents to any interactions on social networks that could cause concern. Although children must consent to being monitored, the service invisibly cross-checks them and their friends against up to 50 databases to see if there are any suspicious links, for instance with users who may be of significantly different ages.

Once a child has agreed to be monitored, SafeSocial provides parents with a dashboard of their online activity and also provides alerts to indicate any suspicious behaviour. This could include, for instance, conversations about sex, drugs or suicide.

Launched by American web company AOL, the service costs £6.99 per month to monitor up to four accounts, and claims to encourage parents and children to talk about potential risks posed by the internet.

The service also scans the web for photos tagged with the child’s name, but it cannot see beyond standard privacy settings. Equally, by using an email address SafeSocial cannot “see” any behaviour from an email address that a child sets up but does not tell his parents about. AOL said that in such an instance, however, the lack of activity in a child’s normal account would raise the alarm to a parent.

"The average social networking user has an average of 173 friends and until now the job of tracking online activity has been both difficult and time consuming. SafeSocial enables teens to have their freedom and enjoy time on their favourite social networks, without being visibly monitored or censored, at the same time providing parents with a quick overview of any irregular activity," said David Smith, Head of AOL UK Paid Services.

View the original article here

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