Facebook bullying is the No. 1 cause of student suspensions in North America

As we all know that Facebook has become a tool of cyber bullying, Identity theft and child harrasmant. Chris Vollum, a speaker at Saturday’s Bluewater District School Board parent conference in Owen Sound, said the site can put a child in harm’s way, if not used with caution.

“The more I read about Facebook, the more shocked I become about how they disregard our privacy,” he said in an interview.

A Oakville resident began to take a critical look at Facebook after his daughter set up an account in Grade 8.

He said he dedicated many hours to investigating the site’s security and privacy measures. Since presenting his findings to officials with the Halton District School Board, Vollum has been invited to attend parent seminars and schools across southwestern Ontario.

On Saturday, he held a two-hour Facebook 101 seminar for parents living in Grey-Bruce.

Vollum said students can cyber bully classmates by writing threatening comments or rumors on a person’s wall or on a group page or by tagging certain photographs. A tagged photograph can be viewed by the friends of the photographer and the friends of each person identified in the picture.

Facebook bullying is the No. 1 cause of student suspensions in North America, he said.

Predators can also use Facebook to set up fake accounts, he said, in hopes of becoming friends with unsuspecting children. Once friends, the person is privy to information such as the child’s hometown, age or even school. “I saw one account of a person who had over a thousand friends, in Grade 9. That’s impossible,” he said.

Child predators often troll through Facebook, he said, looking for young users with non-secure profiles.

Information about a person can appear on another user’s news feed, he said.The site can also be used to copy a person’s picture, personal information or profile page to steal their identity, he said.

Vollum said many parents are unfamiliar with Facebook, even though the site boasts 134 million users worldwide, including 18 million in Canada. Parents are sometimes computer illiterate or trust what their child has to say about the site, he said. Most parents are “stunned” by the lax privacy controls, he said.

To protect younger users, Vollum said parents should adjust the privacy and security settings of their child’s account to the most stringent available. Children, as well as adults, should be selective in choosing friends, he said, as well as being identified in photographs.

“Treat your Facebook profile as if you are showing it to the whole world,” he said.