European Commission - Press release
Digital Agenda: social networks can do much more to protect minors' privacy - Commission report
Brussels, 30 September 2011 - Only two out of nine social networking sites (Habbo Hotel and Xbox Live) have default settings which make minors' personal profiles accessible only to their approved list of contacts according to a new round of tests undertaken for the European Commission.
However, a majority of sites tested do give youngsters age-appropriate safety information, guidance and/or educational materials specifically targeted at minors and respond to requests for help. Seven sites responded to requests for help, a majority in less than a day.
Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda said: “Young people enjoy and derive great benefits from social networking online but are often not conscious enough of risks such as grooming. Social networking sites need to take seriously their responsibilities towards these youngsters. I intend to address these issues later this year in a comprehensive strategy on making the internet a safer place for children through a combination of protective and empowerment measures."
The report looks specifically at implementation of the "Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU" by blogging (Skyrock) and gaming (Xbox Live) platforms, photo and video sharing platforms (YouTube, Dailymotion, Flickr), virtual worlds (Habbo Hotel, Stardoll), platforms that have some social networking functionalities (Windows Live) and platforms that allow the creation of personal profiles with the possibility of uploading blog entries, photos and updates (Yahoo! Pulse). The tests were carried out between March and June 2011.
The latest report complements the one published in June 2011 on implementation of the Principles by fourteen dedicated social networking sites (see IP/11/762).
The Commission is reviewing protection of minors online from such risks as grooming and cyber-bullying as part of the objective set by the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200) to enhance trust in the Internet. The results of the two surveys of implementation of the Safer Social Networking Principles will be taken into account by the Commission in a comprehensive initiative to empower and protect children when using new technologies due later this year.
"Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU" are a self-regulatory agreement brokered by the Commission in 2009 to keep children safe online (see IP/09/232).
Twenty one companies have signed the Principles to date: Arto, Bebo, Dailymotion, Facebook, Giovani, Google, Hyves, Microsoft Europe, MySpace, Nasza-klasa, Netlog, One, Rate, Skyrock, VZnet Netzwerke, Stardoll, Sulake, Tuenti, Yahoo! Europe and Zap. Wer-kennt-wen signed-up in November 2010 but was not tested in the current assessment.
The latest report found that:
On several of these websites user profiles are not the main point of entry or of interest for users. This is especially true of photo-sharing and video-sharing platforms where users would typically visit a photostream or a video channel, but not necessarily a user’s profile.
The Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU and the assessment of their implementation:
Safer Internet Programme:
Digital Agenda website:
Neelie Kroes' website: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/
Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter: http://twitter.com/neeliekroeseu