Should parents get to control their kids' Facebook pages?

A California bill would let parents prune what their kids post online. A critical victory for parents or a strangely heavy-handed law?

A teen checks Facebook on her iPhone
(Image credit: Jan Haas/Getty Images)

Facebook is heading for a showdown with parents in California. State legislators are considering a bill that would force social-networking sites to change their privacy policies, giving parents the right to prune online information about their children up to age 18. If a mom or dad didn't like a photo or post involving their kid, they could demand that Facebook remove it within 48 hours, or face a $10,000 fine. Is this a sensible way to help parents protect their children?

Yes, parents should set the rules: Once a kid turns 13 and becomes old enough to be an authorized Facebook user, "parental authority essentially is meaningless," says Mary Beth Hicks at The Washington Times. Facebook guarantees users' privacy, and essentially tells parents to mind their own business. It's about time we had "a law that reminds social-networking companies of the primacy of parents in the lives of their minor children."

"California bill respects authority of parents"

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But do we really need a heavy-handed law? By all means, parents, keep tabs on what your children are doing online, says Jeanne Sager at The Stir. But don't demand that Facebook do your dirty work. If you want the ability to remove inappropriate pictures, tell your kid to give you his password. "That's all you have to do. Buck up and act like real parents."

"California Facebook law would trample our kids' spirits"

Don't forget about kids' rights: This bill is supposed to be about protecting privacy online, says Kashmir Hill at Forbes. But for California teens, it does the opposite. Giving people "more control" over online information isn't always liberating — just ask some of the 16-year-olds who would be affected by this law. "Kids should have some privacy rights too, after all."

"California bill would let parents prune their kids' Facebook pages"

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