ButterflySha on Flickr

Photo: ButterflySha on Flickr

Today, Mitch Joel from Twist Image posted some very frightening statistics from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy about internet behaviour and the sharing of sexually explicit material among youth online. Among them:

“One in five teen girls (22%), nearly as many teen boys (18%) and one-third (33%) of young adults say they have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude photographic or video images of themselves.”

That just freaks me out.

I know that these young digital natives don’t remember a world without internet connectivity, and to them, the internet has been around forever… for their forever, anyway. The problem is, it hasn’t been around forever. No one can accurately predict what kind of trouble this could bring to the future of these young people.

Even in instances where people believe they are sharing their photos and videos only with their friends, they may be unaware of the actual implications for posting this material online. Here is an excerpt from Facebook’s terms of use policy as an example:

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.

So you’re basically giving Facebook the right to use anything you post on their servers for any purpose they see fit.

Please, please re-think it. Here are some things I recommend you NOT post online:

  • Naked photos of your kids
  • Naked photos of yourself
  • Video of your drunken escapades
  • Semi-nude photos such as flashing
  • Any video of a pornographic nature

These are just the biggies.

It’s really important that everyone online thinks about the kind of electronic footprint they’re leaving. What does it look like when someone Google searches you? More and more prospective employers are using the internet to find out about candidates. Is your Facebook profile public or private? If it’s private, how private is it?

I once saw nude video of a young boy who is the son of a friend of mine. My friend commented on her friend’s video and thus the conversation showed up in my News Feed. I clicked the video and saw full frontal nudity of a ~3 year old boy. Now, thankfully I’m not a pedophile, but you never know how people use Facebook or who they’re connected with. Did you know that all applications (including the video app) default to public even if your profile is private? You have to go in and set your video app to private separately. I messaged the mom and let her know I could see the video. She told me to mind my own business; at least I warned her.

I’m not saying what you should or shouldn’t do. I’m just asking you to think about what it is that you’re doing and be sure you’re informed about the potential ramifications of your decisions. If Facebook decides to create a “Facebook Does Spring Break” video will your personal sexcapades be a part of it?

Private doesn’t mean private on the internet. Everything is copied, backed up and traceable.

Just think about it.