Is Facebook getting too old for teens?

May 15, 2018
Vote on Hacker News

 
 
Today, Facebook announced a “portal” to inform youngsters on how to use Facebook. This could seem like a noble idea. However, both the content and the means to get it across don’t make par.
 
 

A Portal for Youth

 
Facebook launched its Youth portal. Available in 60 languages, it aims to provide a central place for teens.
They can learn how to use Facebook and promote their interests, discover how other teens use Facebook, control their experience and get advice.
 
The news had gathered a whopping 36 likes as we speak and it doesn’t take much to understand the mixed feelings.
 

A few animations and empty words

 
“Find your people. Connect with your interests. Create cool stuff”. The sober looking portal sound very much like a grown-up trying to get through to a child. The topics range from “Get to know Facebook ” to “define your network” or “share mindfully“.
 
Not only does it sound boring but it looks the part too. No visual tutorials, no film or screen capture. Just text. It’s a bit difficult to figure out what the age range it is for. Especially when one can observe how some teens resent long stretches of text.
 

A sprinkle of safety, a glimpse of security, not much on behavior

 
Securing the access to the Facebook account seems to be the most important part of the Facebook experience. An entire sequence deals with this.
 
One might expect the “safety” tab to promote careful use of the platform with regards to online predators and/or bullying.
No. Safety, for Facebook, is all about following, unfollowing, ignoring, blocking and reporting.
 

Odd views on privacy

 
The privacy tab mainly deals with how to create lists of friends, review tags and see how the profile looks for others.
One would think privacy issues on Facebook would go a bit further than that. Like what kind of pictures or posts might give away sensitive information that could later endanger a young user.
 

Guiding principles on posting

 
We all know heartbreaking stories of kids resorting to suicide following cyber-bullying. It would seem like an obvious theme to address right away. Both posting considerately and acting in a civilized manner online.
 
But it’s only when you’ve gone through the all the tech babble about two-factor authentification and notifications that you get to this stage.
 
The “principles” on posting get neither cool visuals nor examples. It’s just theory, sounding pretty much like a grown-up lecturing an inattentive kid.
 

Why a boring website?

 
The content is missing the point. I can’t think of a single teen who would willingly go through all those pages. It does bring on more questions.
Why a boring website? Facebook has the means to reach youngsters via more popular media. Think “stories”, think “canvas”, even ads but not a static website.
 
Teens will not consult the portal before signing up on Facebook. They will register then, maybe, have questions. The answers must be within the Facebook app itself. And in a form that appeals to youngsters.
 

Is Facebook trying to please adults?

 
Or is this portal a way to appeal to parents rather than teens? It gives the impression Facebook is trying to care for kids. But, in fact, it gets nowhere close to addressing the real issues of social media misuse by the younger people. Yet, it may reassure parents enough to let their kids sign up on Facebook and enter the social media spiral. Either that or Facebook has definitely lost the knack for speaking to teens.