Facebook and State Attorneys General Team Up to Educate Teens and Parents about Privacy

Facebook, Attorneys General pair up to create educational websites and videos.

ByABC News
April 14, 2013, 10:05 AM

April 14, 2013 — -- While some reports indicate that teen Facebook use is on the decline, Facebook along with the National Association of Attorneys General are about to become laser focused on educating that younger demographic and their parents about privacy on the social networking community.

On April 15, Doug Gansler, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) president and Maryland's attorney general, plans to announce that the two groups will work together in the coming months to educate teens and their parents about Facebook safety and privacy through a number of different informational webpages and videos.

"There are more and more parents now who understand Facebook and how it works and how their children are using it, but don't necessarily understand the privacy settings and how they work," Gansler told ABC News in an interview.

The education will begin through the launch of a few different educational web tools, he said. A Facebook and NAGG "Safety and Privacy on Facebook" page on the social network will feature information on privacy settings, best practices and a tip sheet on how to set up privacy controls.

The page will also include "Ask the Safety Team" videos, in which members of Facebook's safety team answer questions about privacy, bullying and safety. It will also include a basic primer video explaining what Facebook is and how to use it.

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In addition to those, state attorneys general Facebook pages will feature state-specific public service announcements and videos, in which participating attorneys general and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will offer tips. Gansler will appear in Maryland's video, which will be released on Tuesday.

While teens might not frequent those attorneys general sites or Facebook pages, Gansler said he is hoping their parents will, and said he is also relying on Facebook's advertising of the pages to get the word out. Facebook confirmed that over the next year, it would advertise those state-specific video PSAs to parents, teens, and families in participating states on Facebook.

"This program is designed to provide teens with tools and tips to manage their privacy and visibility on Facebook and across the internet," Sandberg said in a statement provided to ABC News. "We're grateful for Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler's leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working with him and attorneys general around the country."

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Gansler will just be the first attorney general to work with Facebook; more than a dozen other attorneys general will share the new pages and videos with their constituents through their web and Facebook pages.

Sandberg is meeting privately today with Gansler and the other participating attorneys general in National Harbor, Md., to discuss the program. Sandberg, who recently released "Lean In," a best-selling book about women in the workforce, has been extremely involved in the project.

While Gansler will formally announce the project Monday, the PSAs won't start popping up until Tuesday. Gansler's version for Maryland will appear on his official Facebook page and on his website. Other participating states, which have not yet been revealed, will also have the videos and information on their respective Facebook pages.

Gansler said that although Facebook is still the "800-pound gorilla," he is aware of the data that shows that the younger set is beginning to move to other messaging services and social networks.

"Five years ago it was MySpace. The attorneys general got involved with MySpace and we addressed the sexual predator issues on the site," Gansler said. "While there is some movement [away from Facebook] into other places, and we are aware of that, we are going to make sure we are involved in those as well. We will move along with the trends towards the next thing in a regulatory capacity."