I recently had the opportunity to talk at length with Dorothée Fisher, Head of Marketing & Communication at the social networking site Formspring. Actually, the story behind how we connected explains why I was interested in speaking with her.
I had just posted an article on GalTime about cyberbullying. I made mention that social networking sites including Formspring are often misused by tweens and teens.
Shortly after the post Ms. Fisher e-mailed me directly inviting me to connect with her to discuss the ongoing efforts in which Formspring is engaged in both combating the misuse of their site and cyberbullying in general. To say I was intrigued would be an understatement.
When we connected I was not only impressed but inspired with Formspring and Ms. Fisher, in particular.
Sure it's her job to ensure that the site is presented in the best light possible, after all, successful social networking sites are big business these days. Her interest and passion, however, as a caring professional and parent was obvious.
Formspring was introduced in 2009, the brain child of Ade Olonoh, CEO & Founder.
It was originally conceived as a site for businesses to use, but quickly morphed into a popular social networking tool when its users began to employ it as such. The developers jumped on the concept that was born from its users.
It was the fastest growing social networking site picking up over a million users in less than two months.
Any company that grows this quickly is bound to experience growing pains and Formspring was certainly not immune. One of their concerns was that their greatest pool of users aged 13-17 were sometimes using the site to engage in socially damaging self-abuse practices.
Specifically, these young users would anonymously post a negative question about themselves and/or post negative abusive content with the intention of creating self-focused 'mean girl/guy drama.'
In response, the Formspring development team made some important decisions.
They knew that some of these decisions would result in loss of membership. They took away the option of posting oneself anonymous questions to end the self-abuse. In addition, they set up a flagging system in an effort to immediately attend to concerning or inappropriate content.
They also devised a safety response protocol.
As Ms. Fisher and I candidly discussed, there will always be people who focus on the misuse of social networking tools. Regardless of whether their intent is to create self-focus through self-abuse or cyberbullying others, if there is a will, people usually find a way.
Perhaps what was most impressive about my conversation with Ms. Fisher was her desire to listen and learn about the concerns I had as a result of my contact with parents and kids using the site.
It is only through the partnership between teen, tweens, parents, experts and professionals that we can ensure that the world of social networking is both satisfying and safe. It appears at least one social networking site is truly on the right track.
More from GalTime.com:
- Parenting Alert: Dangerous Websites for Teen Girls
- 8 Ways to Sharpen Your Child's Writing Skills this Summer
- Confessions of 'Bad Moms' & Why We're Still Good
- Top Pinterest Pages for Parents
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Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg are authors of the hit book, "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual." They've set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at www.talkingteenage.com.