Social Networking Services and Minors

The use of Social Networking Sites (SNS) is omnipresent. With the importance for public and private communication the challenges and risks these SNS pose, especially for their younger users, are critical. There have been significant efforts by the European Commission and industry to deal with the challenges and risks of SNS for younger users.

The “Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU”  created by multi-stakeholder co-operation and signed by more than 20 social networking service providers is considered a milestone in furthering more socially responsible services.

However, it had become clear that the principles of this document are being implemented only in some parts and not always at the same level.   As with all forms of declarations of intent, they are not enforceable in any way. While a command-and-control approach does not seem promising in this field of regulation, there are other measures that – when put in place – can improve the implementation of the Principles or even enhance the Principles themselves.

The SRDA offers an independent platform for all parties involved to sketch a mutual pathway using current approaches and identifying new ones.

Approach

Social networking services offer platforms and tools for communication. They empower users to create, to share and to manage their social contacts. Providing communications between people today requires social responsibility. The shape, scope and configuration of this responsibility is what the SRDA attempts to identify.

Issues currently debated with regard to Social Networking Services are – above all – the protection of privacy of minors, the protection of minors against harmful content or activities, as well as the build-up of trust and confidence in the platforms. As SNS increasingly become social goods, it becomes more and more clear that there might be better concepts for setting incentives than plain top-down governance and enforcement.

To assess those concepts and their feasibility in the given contexts of policy roadmaps, industry strategies and social concerns, the SRDA currently proposes the project’s working plan to partners and contributors.

SRDA’s activities: Round tables, workshops, future labs with SNS stakeholders and NGOs

Project term: Jan 2012 – Apr 2014

Funding: own funds