I read an interesting article yesterday from Martha Irvine of the Associated Press. The basis of the article was that teens are migrating to Twitter…sometimes for privacy.
I honestly thought it was a joke.
The idea is that teens, who initially held out on Twitter, are now signing up for the service en masse, due to the fact that their Facebook network is being overtaken by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. In other words, people they don’t want to share every detail of their life with. (I guess they prefer to share those details with strangers)
Irvine cites a Pew report that shows the number of teens age 12-17 on Twitter doubled (from 8% to 16%) from 2009 to 2011. No doubt that number is higher today.
But to cite privacy as the reason? One teen quoted in the article had this to say:
Facebook is like shouting into a crowd. Twitter is like speaking into a room.
Read that sentence again. If you needed any more convincing about the need for social media education, you should now be fully on board.
Some would argue that Facebook, because it is on the internet, is public. I get that, but there are a number of privacy settings available that Twitter doesn’t have.
In some of the most recent updates to the platform, Facebook now actually lets you choose who you share each status update with (this feature was taken directly from Google+).
This option is also available on the iPhone app. You assign people lists, and you choose to share a status with the world, just your friends, just your family, just the people in your Statistics class, etc. I’d call that privacy. Is it perfect? No. Can other people gain access to it? Sure, but it takes a significant amount of work. And they can’t share it unless they want to take a screen shot of it and then upload the pic – which is just a bit ridiculous, though it does happen.
There are also a number of privacy settings that you can adjust to determine who sees any of your info (pictures, apps, etc). My wife can’t even tag me in a picture without me getting an alert to approve it.
Twitter, on the other hand, is really anything but private. I’ve talked about it before, how even a Twitter account set to Private isn’t actually private. We’ve seen how easy it was for the tweets from the Private accounts of Yuri Wright and Jamal Shuman to make it into the public realm. Both kids thought that nobody could see their tweets because they had set their account to Private. Both were painfully wrong.
Many of the issues we see with student-athletes and social media (at the current time, at least) come from Twitter, not Facebook (just look at the network that coaches routinely ban). 2 billion people have access to Twitter without even creating an account (my mother tweet-stalks me and doesn’t have the first clue about how to set up an account).
Twitter is designed as a public network. With built in features like retweets, content is meant and even encouraged to be easily shared with others – even others you don’t know.
Generally speaking, Facebook is where people connect with family and friends that they actually know (have met in real life). Of my over 400 Facebook friends, there are only 2 that I’ve not met in person. Of the 1000 people I follow on Twitter, I’ve met less than 100 in person. Most people I know operate their accounts the same way.
Teens (see: student-athletes) apparently operate the same way, taking to Twitter to get away from the adults in their life – they just don’t realize the world has access to their Twitter account.
It’s on us to make sure they understand that.