Of the 20 million minors who actively used Facebook in the past year, 7.5 million of them were younger than 13, according to projections from Consumer Reports’ latest State of the Net survey. Facebook’s terms of service require users to be at least 13 years old.
Also among this group of minors using Facebook, more than 5 million were 10 and under. Consumer Reports survey found that their accounts were largely unsupervised by their parents, exposing them to malware or serious threats such as predators or bullies. It is not only the underage users who are at risk. Children’s unsafe use of Facebook can expose the data on their parents’ computers and smart phones to abuse via identity theft and other privacy violations.
The report on Internet security, which includes the full survey results and advice for parents of Facebook users, is featured in the June issue of Consumer Reports and on www.ConsumerReports.org.
Social media is just one of the many ways consumers expose themselves and make themselves vulnerable to becoming a victim of identity theft or having to replace their computer. Earlier this year, Consumer Reports surveyed 2,089 online households nationwide and found that one-third had experienced a malicious software infection in the previous year. Consumer Reports estimates that malware cost consumers $2.3 billion last year and forced them to replace 1.3 millions PCs.
Consumer Reports recommends:
Being Social but Safe
- Monitor a child’s account. Parents should join their children’s circle of friends on Facebook. If that’s not feasible with an older teenager, keep tabs on them through their friends or siblings, as did 18 percent of parents surveyed who had 13- to 17-year olds on Facebook. Parents should delete a pre-teen’s account or ask Facebook to do so by using its “report an underage child” form.
- Utilize privacy controls. Roughly one in five active adult Facebook users said they hadn’t utilized Facebook’s privacy controls, making them more vulnerable to threats. Facebook’s privacy controls may not prevent every breach but they help. Users should set everything they can to be accessible only to those on their friends list. Enabling a public search allows users’ profile picture, friends list, activities and more to be visible online outside of Facebook.
- Turn off Instant Personalization. Facebook has been adding sites to its Instant Personalization feature, which automatically links accounts to user-review sites such as TripAdvisor (travel) and Yelp (local businesses). Users who don’t wish to share what cities they have visited with their Facebook friends via TripAdvisor should disable Instant Personalization, which is turned on by default.
Protecting a Mobile Phone
- Use a password or PIN. The easiest way to protect data against loss is with a personal identification number (PIN) or password on a phone. Most cell and smart phones have an option to do so under settings or security options. Consumer Reports’ survey found that only about 20 percent of mobile phone owners using their phones in potentially risky ways such as storing sensitive data had taken this precaution.
- Take advantage of security services. Many smart-phone makers offer free security services such as over-the-air backup, remote phone locating, remote phone locking, and erasing of data and account information. There’s software available that allows users to lock the phone or erase data remotely. Users who don’t need the phone’s GPS feature should disable it.
- Use caution when downloading apps. Only download apps from recognized sources. Make sure many others have already used it and read reviews before downloading it. Also, scrutinize the permissions an app requests. If any seem questionable, such as a request to track location when there’s no obvious need for the app to do so, don’t download the app.
This is another one of those romantic comedies where a bland couple has some trivial obstacles to overcome and you just wish they would get out of the way because their surrounding friends and family are much more interesting.
Mindy Kaling (“The Office”), Greta Gerwig (“Greenberg”), Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (“Back for the First Time”), Kevin Kline (“A Fish Called Wanda”), Lake Bell (“It’s Complicated”), and Jake M. Johnson (“Paper Heart”) and the characters they play are each far more deserving of a movie of their own than the dull couple played by Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher.
This seems to be a movie moment for stories about what Erica Jong used to call zipless [sex], the fantasy of an experience that is physical perfection with no thinking or emotion involved at all. “Friends With Benefits” has an almost identical plot to this one and “Hall Pass,” and “Just Go With It” are among the films that focus on the premise of sex without any sort of romantic entanglements or consequences. This made for a pretty good “Seinfeld” episode but I’m not sure there is enough in that premise for even one movie, and this movie does not persuade me otherwise.
First we have to have a reason for both parties to avoid any relationship beyond the physical. It’s pretty weak on her part and pretty ugly on his. Kutcher plays a guy who has been hurt. His ex-girlfriend is sleeping with his father (Kevin Kline) a one-time television star with a taste for drugs and women, the emotional maturity of a two-year-old and the vocabulary of a Penthouse letter. Portman plays a doctor who is just too busy for relationship niceties. Ultimately, we find out there’s a little bit more to it, but it’s too dull to care about. In the meantime, our couple finds out that there’s no such thing as uncomplicated sex.
Portman does what she can for her character despite her idiotic and inconsiderate behavior. Kutcher plays his usual lovable St. Bernard puppy self, the boyfriend so perfect he even makes a special mix CD for soothing menstrual cramps. But the resolution is so clear from the beginning and the contrast with the more engaging characters around them so clear that it feels like it keeps trying to lose us. Instead of making us care about the couple, it tries to win us over with crassly provocative behavior and language. This movie would be more accurately titled, “a salute to the overshare.” Unless you think it deserves saluting, skip it.
Fifty years ago today, my dad, Newton Minow, the 35-year old Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, spoke to the National Association of Broadcasters. What he said was so ground-breaking and so resonant that it has been included in many collections of the best speeches of the 20th century. It has also been used as an LSAT question, a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” answer, and, most memorably, as the inspiration for the name of the sinking ship on Gilligan’s Island.
Tonight, Dad will appear at the National Press Club with the current Chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, to talk about the impact of the speech, the stunning revolution in media and technology over the past five decades, and what lies ahead. If you’re not able to come, you can watch “From Wasteland to Broadband” on C-SPAN.
Some tributes and commentaries on the anniversary:
Virginia Heffernan in the New York Times: Television’s Curse was Its Blessing
James Warren’s interview with Dad for the Chicago News Cooperative: Never Mind the ‘Vast Wasteland’ — Newton Minow Has More to Say
Bob Lerhman in Politico: Minow’s Whale of a Speech
Katie O’Brien on WBEZ: Is Television Still a Vast Wasteland?
James Fallows in The Atlantic: Worth Watching — Newton Minow 50 Years Later
Tony Mauro in Legal Times: 50 Years Later, Minow Reflects on ‘Vast Wasteland’ Speech
Jess Bravin in the Wall Street Journal: Vast Wasteland: Marking the 50th Anniversary
And my dad’s own views about the NAB conference and what happened afterward.
I am very, very proud of my wonderful parents, who have not only devoted their lives to healing the world, from the most individual, personal attention to the most monumental change (Dad helped to create and currently co-chairs the system of Presidential debates), but who set an example for my sisters and me of integrity, fairness, and dedication to family that will always inspire us to do better.