The sound of small children giggling echoed off the walls of the gym. Parents sat at foldable lunch tables, pencils in hand, facing a projector screen.
In front of some, steam wafted up from white Styrofoam cups of canela tea Alejandro Vilches had provided.
"¿Piensaron que fue café?” he asked with a smile. The 25 parents in the room chuckled, acknowledging the truth in his statement. It was late at night. And some still wore their uniforms from work.
Vilches is the Belle Haven Community School Director, where more than half of the students enrolled speak Spanish at home. He was integral in scheduling a visit from the Facebook Safety Team, whose goal is to create a culture in which people share freely and use their real names.
The social sharing platform, which is almost ubiquitous in English-speaking cultures, is its corporate social responsibility endeavors and embracing Spanish-speaking users. The Facebook Safety Team conducted its first domestic outreach in Spanish this past week at Belle Haven Community School in Menlo Park, California. They shared information about how to keep children safe on the site, and prevent cyberbullying during a presentation conducted almost entirely in Spanish.
The amount of people who use in Spanish is not public information. That section of Facebook, which has resources for educators, parents, and anyone interested in learning how to protect data on Facebook, was redesigned in April of this year. The text is available in Spanish if a user's Facebook page language is set to Spanish.
While many in English-speaking cultures are challenged with staying abreast of the latest changes to Facebook’s privacy settings, some people who attended that evening’s safety session struggled to grasp some of the site’s basic principles.
“If I friend my daughter, will I be able to see all of her comments, or will they be private?” asked one parent.
“Teens have the same privacy settings as other users,” said Nicki Jackson Colaco, Facebook’s safety policy manager, through a translator. “They can block content from parents.”
Colaco said she doesn’t see it happening often, but she thinks that’s a good indicator that the teen understands privacy settings and how to use them.
“Is there a reason they’re hiding info? Did they post baby photos or write things on their wall that might embarrass them?” she said, presenting situations where a teen might put a parent on a list that restricts content sharing.
She stressed that behavior online is essentially the same type that occurs offline, and that people should be aware that anything uploaded to the internet can become public.
The safety team also showed parents how to make lists that filter what information becomes public. They urged parents to report inappropriate behavior to Facebook and encouraged them to get Facebook accounts, if only to monitor their childrens’ activities.
“Por qué no todos tenemos la misma idea de compartir todo.”