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back to article 'Facebook for Kids' slammed by security researchers

A new social network website claiming to be a "Facebook for Kids" is riddled with security shortcomings, security researchers at Cambridge University have warned. The site - School Together Now - said that it took security seriously and promised to review the findings of the Cambridge researchers. School Together Now - which is …

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I wonder if...

...they'll link to this article in the 'Media interest' section on their front page? :)

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Hate to be cynical but...

Anything that advertises itself as "Facebook for kids" is obviously jumping on the popularity of Facebook and social networking in general. Is it any real wonder that it's anything more than a token effort and open to abuse by advertisers and other ne'r do wells!

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Wonders never cease

I just created myself an account on here (as a small child from Aberdeen affiliated to a school I had never heard of via the useful school search facility).

The only good thing here is that the site is so unbelievably crap that no child in their right mind would spend more than 1 minute here before going to Bebo.

Where is the godamn FOTW icon when you need it?

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Gates Horns

Facebook for kids?

Isn't Facebook "Facebook for kids"?

Vista not so good actually.

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anyone have a clue to lend them?

"The team’s research is particularly welcome at this time as we prepare to launch the site to the general public next year. We shall look at the report very carefully and if we feel that it identifies areas where our site’s security can by improved then we shall take swift action to do so,"

It doesn't take a post-grad student to realise the site in its current implementation is fundamentally flawed in its design. Once again, words fail me. Good on him for writing it though - rather shake the stick at them now before its live.

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Coat

Another example of an IT related business that has no IT related expertise

The least they could have done is hired a security/privacy consultant, with IT experience. It's not like we're everywhere or anything :P Oh wait we are! 'Cause we all got laid off because no one wants to pay more than $10/hr for work the people who need us don't understand.

Also, parent's who put themselves into positions where they are the ones who keep their kids secure from technology seem to be the ones least able to do the job, but they find it so hard to trust anyone who knows how to use a computer just because most of them don't. The way I have people hover over me while I fix the computer their kids use, it's like I'm some kind of guilty before innocent perv, since I don't have kids of my own. In my experience, when it comes to tech, parents do more harm than good becuase they're unwilling to learn what they're kids enjoy and the basics of how it all works. Can't look stupid by asking questions now, can we? ;P Oh yeah, and spying on the kids behind their back do great things for the family unit :P <-(sarcasm)

I do admit, a lot of IT help tend to hate being asked questions, so they're part of the problem too, but the kids shouldn't have to suffer for it. IT help are like doctors, if yours is an asshole, find someone else. I personally enjoy letting people watch what I'm doing on their computer and answering their questions about what and why I'm doing what I'm doing. Why? Because I know what I'm doing :P There's no reason people should be led to believe there isn't a lot of guess work in troubleshooting, otherwise it wouldn't be called troubleshooting, you'd just be fixing it since you're obviously psychic ;P

Holy hell I went off topic. This kind of company just drives me nuts, and so do a lot of parents who let their kids grow up in front of TVs and computers without any kind of supervision at all, because of all the freaks, assholes, and perverts out there, and parent that won't even warn their kids of them becuase they're too young to know?? It's almost like they want their kids to be victims, it's insane, or just ignorance is bliss syndrome. The real world has never successfully catered to the ignorant, just victimize them while making them think they are being catered too.

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Anonymous Coward

Parents & Predators

It sounds like they're counting on parents to stay involved and provide the "safety and security" themselves. If that happened, it would be great, but I suspect it's not very realistic.

On the other hand the fear that the site will be overrun by "predators" isn't terribly realistic either. Despite popular wisdom, they are not, for the most part, paedophiles, and won't have much interest in stalking 7-12 year olds. Nor would it be practical to arrange a meeting with a child that age.

Still it's irresponsible to give people a false sense of security. Obviously the same advice applies on this web site as any other: Trust no one. Don't give out personal info.

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Anonymous Coward

Get rich quick

An example of web 2.0 think - "if that woman who did friends reunited can make a fortune from her kitchen, I can too"

Being clueless on security with a site aimed at kids is begging for trouble, not to mention leaving yourself open for a mini-jihad from the Mail.

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Not Facebookforkids.com

I read your article with great interest as I am heavily involved in the design and implementation of a social site named facebook for kids Your unfortunate title makes it appear you are referring to our new site however your article shows insight into the many problems faced by security especially where children are involved. Facebookforkids.com unlike the site you are referring to in the article allows no advertising, no external links, no chatting at all on the the site, it is also very heavily monitored and any and all media has had all external links disabled so a child cannot inadvertently click his or her way to inappropriate material. the site is still in beta testing and is not finished yet. I would not want your readers to think we have in any way any association with the site you are writing about Facebookforkids.com takes our security and your children's safety very seriously It is built on the educational social network platform elgg and we are at present installing more security features to get ready for our opening

Thankyou

Mother Hen

http://facebookforkids.com

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Paris Hilton

yes but

Deep respect to Mother Hen.... you are obviously a considerably better informed and responsible individual than your counterpart Ms Guy and I wish you well with your venture.... but....

The internet is NOT for children, it never was, it never can be. It was bad enough for the last generation to be abandoned in front of TV as a form of nanny/entertainer/comforter for hours but this new reliance on computers and the internet to do the task of occupying a child's mind is nothing short of lunacy and it has to stop (if anyone genuinely IS "thinking of the children").

Children need to explore their imagination, they need to play and interact... none of these things can be done safely on the internet without one adult watching over each and every child for the entire duration. It would be more rewarding for both parent and child to sit down together with a jigsaw puzzle, lego or some play dough.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mother Hen

You use comic-frickin'-sans as the font for your site's identity.

Unimaginative.

Ugly.

And, as the kids would say, 'epic fail'. Although their spelling might vary somewhat.

http://www.bancomicsans.com

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Flame

Oops...

I'm not sure you're particularly wise posting on here Mother Hen. *waits for the hordes of El Regites to tear your site to shreds*

OK, I'll start then. :-)

The design of your site sucks - particularly the Wizard of Oz page. Ugh. Like something from the web circa 1996...

Also, I assume that MGM will be on to you for copyright violation on the Tom & Jerry videos, the Wizard of Oz, etc.

Likewise, I imagine you'll be getting a little letter from Facebook's lawyers soon.

My advice? Drop your idea. It's rubbish.

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Alert

Court

So all I have to do to get a free security audit from a professional is to say, loudly and in a public place, that I intend to target my site at children? Excellent.

--------------------------------

Hi Mother Hen,

Calling your site Facebook for kids could land you in court if you intend to make money from it (and perhaps even if you don't). Unless, that is, you have got permission from Facebook to use their name.

p.s. I am not a solicitor

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@Mother Hen: First...

Hens don't quack...

Second, use a spell checker - COMING only has the one M. What are you hoping to teach these kids?

I could go on, but TBH the site just feels too GeoCities, so I'll plump for FAIL. Sorry.

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Re: Deep respect to Mother Hen....

Not me. Not with that level of spelling and punctuation.

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Alert

How old is Mother Hen, really? Just one of the kids?

I wonder, because, the quality of English, specifically punctuation, seems to be on about the same level ability as the target audience.

My five year old has a better command of grammer and punctuation for crying out loud!

Quack, quack ;)

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Unhappy

true security

Won't name any names but I was working for a company 3 years ago who had this great plan for a safe kids FB type site with various security features to cross check that kids were kids and they're still nowhere near getting it commercially viable. I really don't think it's possible to do a 100% not-get-your-ass-sued when it goes wrong interactive kids site

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Happy

anonymously titled too

@ Matthew Collier - it's grammar, not grammer mate - you gonna take the piss out of someone for their typing make sure you don't quack it up yourself.

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Happy

Mother Hen responds

Well well quite a storm going on why is everyone so Angry All I'm trying to do is provide a site that does not have any outbound links and no commercial advertising. Whether children belong on the Internet is not and never will be the question . The Question is what to do with them when they do go on. I and you are not here to police the children of the world nor could you if you wanted to. It is a fact of the age that children will find their way onto the net if we want them to or not. I am trying to do something positive about this, as I have 2 children of my own What are you doing about it?????

As far as my spelling goes English is my third language I speak 4 so my apologies maybe I should have written my response in Dutch or German then you would have no call to question my spelling as far as being sued the site facebookforkids has been owned (not by me that is) for over 2 years and has been for up fo sale for 18 months, anyone could have bought it. and as for MGM etc the videos are being streamed by google's YouTube so they are the ones to sue

Try to be posssitive shouting about the problem of kids on the internet is not solving anything DO SOMETHING

I am

Good Day

Mother Hen

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Paris Hilton

possssitively speeeeeking DO SOMETHING

HOWEVER, Mother Hen... you completely ignored the fact that if there were no sites parading themselves as being "for the kids" there would be no excuse for children to be on a medium that is predominately PORNOGRAPHIC, UNREGULATED and rife with phish.

You ask what [WE] are going to do about it... well, I am most certainly going to AVOID promoting the internet for use by minors, same as I believe that a minimum driving/drinking/fucking age is a good idea. As you so correctly pointed out.... anyone could buy FaceBook and anything can appear on YouTube... Legal action takes place AFTER THE OFFENCE.... I would prefer to avoid the offence taking place in the first place. Check your feet for shrapnel... I am not part of the problem... YOU ?

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