EasySite.com, a subscription-based family-friendly social networking site, has called out the likes of Facebook and MySpace for putting revenue and profit before taking responsibility for the privacy and safety of their users.
They cite the usual horror stories of paedophiles stalking teenagers, false profiles, and compromising photographs.
“Sites like MySpace and Facebook choose popularity over responsibility. Popularity means more traffic, which means more ads served and ultimately more money,” saidSteve Sivulka, CEO of Easysite.com. “Easysite has chosen a different path. From day one we created Easysite as a family-friendly website builder with safety and security in mind.”
EasySite prides itself as being ad-free, instead being supported by users paying for the service itself.
Sivulka says that people don’t realise how expensive “free” really is, suggesting that most services are advertising based and place ads on pages the individual user may believe to be theirs.
“A friend of mine found this out the hard way,” he says. “After sending out a link to his newly created personal website, friends and family complained that pop-up ads with strippers on them were appearing on his site. Some ‘free’ services will even send out junk email (spam), sell your personal information to other companies, or track your movements online to better target ads to you.”
I’m all for the concept of more family-friendly sites like EasySite, but I’m a little concerned that they seem to suggest that they’re the solution, when in fact people placing reliance upon their services could still face problems elsewhere.
Firstly, EasySite can do nothing to stop someone else publishing false information about you on another social networking site, blog, or forum.
Neither can it stop other people from publishing compromising photographs of you, if in fact you got yourself into an embarrassing situation in the first place.
While it’s true that some sites like Facebook do target adverts based on what a user does, this isn’t much different to what supermarkets do based on your purchase history, or what companies who conduct consumer surveys do. While some adverts may be questionable, responsible sites don’t show porn. Neither should users be under any illusion that a profile page (such as that which would be set up on Facebook, Bebo, or MySpace) belongs to them.
Finally, while some users might be content to stay in “safe” sites like EasySite.com (and I personally don’t believe a 100% safe web site exists) there’s a whole Internet out there which many people want to explore. That’s the time children and adults need to know how to keep themselves safe.
Social networking sites should take more responsibility for protecting minors, particularly as preteens are using these sites even though they shouldn’t be.
I’m all for sites like EasySite.com, but they’re only a part of the solution to a safer Internet experience.