Facebook Decides It Does Want Access To Your Under-13 Children After All

This time last year, Mark Zuckerberg stirred up some controversy when he said the company was willing to fight for the right to allow children under the age of 13 to use Facebook. He later said his statement had been taken out of context, but now it looks like the social media mega-site is actually working on ways to legally allow pre-teens to join.

Children under the age of 13 are currently not allowed to join Facebook, though millions of them do simply by lying about their age.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook is testing some ways for these children to get around the 13-and-over rule in a way that would allay concerns about kids’ privacy rights:

Mechanisms being tested include connecting children’s accounts to their parents’ and controls that would allow parents to decide whom their kids can “friend” and what applications they can use, people who have spoken with Facebook executives about the technology said. The under-13 features could enable Facebook and its partners to charge parents for games and other entertainment accessed by their children, the people said.

“We are in continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policy makers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment,” Facebook told WSJ.

Last year, our pals at Consumer Reports found that around 7.5 million kids under the age of 13 had signed up for Facebook accounts.

In a statement to Consumerist, Ioana Rusu, regulatory counsel for Consumers Union, responds to the report about Facebook’s efforts to allow children under the age of 13 on the site:

More than 5 million pre-teens have managed to sign up for Facebook accounts. While we are glad that Facebook is seeking to address this problem, the company needs to ensure that it creates a safe, child-friendly space on the site, one that is fundamentally different from the space available to teens and adults. Facebook has to provide parents with effective tools to monitor and supervise their pre-teens’ activities. Plus, it shouldn’t collect information about these children for ads and marketing. If Facebook is serious about making the site a safer place for kids, it has to deliver stronger controls and education aimed at parents, and they shouldn’t target kids with ads.

The Federal Trade Commission is nearing the end of its review of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits children under 13 from joining sites that collect personal information. It is expected that the result of this review will result in even stricter regulations for sites like Facebook, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying on the legislation.

Facebook Explores Giving Kids Access [WSJ.com]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Blueskylaw says:

    “Facebook Decides It Does Want Access To Your Under-13 Children After All”

    NEW HEADLINE: Wall Street now decides that Facebook needs access to your under-13 children now that they have stockholders to answer to.

    What, you didn’t see this coming?

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      A friend of mine whose son is 13 years old and is in my martial arts class has strict rules for his boy; no cell; no internet; no nothing. Homework, martial arts, and spending time outdoors is his life. He’s a good dad and is involved in his son’s life. This kid is smart, balance, and normal and could care less about FB or having a cell phone.

    • Jesse says:

      Advertisers already get information from people under 13 who lie about their age to get Facebook accounts.

  2. Malik says:

    It is kinda difficult to enforce a ban on children joining sites that collect Personal Information without forcing these sites from collecting more information.

    How do you prove that a person is an adult? You get their Driver’s License/State-Issued ID Card or collect Credit Card information

    • raitch says:

      This is what Gmail did recently. My 8 year old daughter has a gmail account- it was created for her when she was a baby- and at the time google didn’t have age constraints on their accounts. Last year they changed their policies and made me prove that there was an adult taking ownership of the account. I had to send them a scan of my driver’s license or let them charge .03 to my credit card. The license scan never went through their website and eventually I had to let them charge my card because my time was running out.

      • Malik says:

        This seems to be the case in instances where a question is raised about the account (some indication that the account owner is someone other than who they claim to be), but the policy is not enacted on a global scale. I would imagine a backlash if it were.

        I certainly would not want to give my Credit Card info over.

  3. theblackdog says:

    Pedobear must be rejoicing at this news

  4. samonela says:

    Why don’t you have a seat right over here?

  5. umbriago says:

    Good idea, what better time to start harvesting data on someone? AT BIRTH!

    Also, what Blueskylaw said: “Well, we’re gonna need to start making more money, so we had better start datamining preteens. We can follow up with children next year, than hit infants in ’14. By 2016 we’ll be into zygotes.”

  6. That guy. says:

    So the kids would have two options…lie and set up their own account, or have one set up under their parent’s where the parent would have full control?

    Gee, I wonder which they’d pick.

    • allen says:

      The one they’re ALREADY picking.

    • orion70 says:

      A lot of pre-teens are also setting up accounts with their parents full knowledge but without the specific parental control. I have received a few FB friend requests from kids of friends, that appear to have been set up with parent’s knowledge and encouraged. Because it’s cute or they can’t say no or something. I refuse to add them.

  7. rmorin says:

    I’ve seen 7 and 8 year olds with facebook. Their parents usually have the attitude “isn’t that cute he/she has a facebook?!” and tend to be a little immature themselves.

    I respectfully disagree with their parenting style.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Yeah, well I disrespectfully disagree with their parenting stye. F%cktards.

    • El_Cheapocabra says:

      + Infinity.

      I work in IT. I can’t tell you how many times a parent has come to me after the excrement has hit the internet’s rotating blades. We’re all sorry that your daughter was cajoled into taking a highly inappropriate picture of her underage self. No, it can’t be “removed from the internet.” Yes, it will haunt her forever. Facebook fails are the new regrettable tattoos.

    • orion70 says:

      Yeah I hate that too, but I’m also guilty in the sense that I haven’t reported the few I’ve seen, even though they weren’t that young.

      I’ve had friends send me add requests for their kids, I refuse to add them. I don’t care if I’m crushing their little spirits, but I have zero interest in interacting with a kid on FB or for that matter, keeping my profile G-rated all the time.

  8. Stickdude says:

    As the parent of a 13 year-old and soon-to-be 12 year-old (neither of whom have a FB account yet), I am curious to see what they come up with.

  9. Invader Zim says:

    I remember blocking facebook and myspace using my router at home. My (then) 16 year old son thanked me for it saying that he was getting tired of feeling like he had to keep up with it and all the comments his friends were making on it. He said “now I can just tell them its blocked and I dont have to worry about it”. I kept it blocked for years.

  10. ARP says:

    But Facebook (and Google) don’t collect personal information, so it’s all fine. They just collect information on your searches, click-stream data, apps that you’ve run, your interests, your friends’ interests, your geographic location, keywords in your emails, etc.

    They can’t figure out anything from that, can they?

  11. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    “This time last year, Mark Zuckerberg stirred up some controversy when he said the company was willing to fight for the right to allow children under the age of 13 to use Facebook.”

    Yeah, that’s probably what it was. I’m sure he was most concerned with these kids’ rights and not the potential for huge profits acquired by selling their information to corporations. Facebook is like a brown worm boring into the apple of the world.

  12. Conformist138 says:

    “The under-13 features could enable Facebook and its partners to charge parents for games and other entertainment accessed by their children, the people said”

    Oh, I can’t imagine that ever becoming a problem. Just imagine the fury if Facebook tries another infamous settings reset and defaults “Junior’s Allowance” to “Unlimited”.

  13. psm321 says:

    Good. As a person with poor “people memory”, I would remember so many more people from elementary/middle school if I’d had Facebook. As it is, that’s the only reason I remember a lot of people from high school and even college.

  14. hahatanka says:

    13? our nieces are both under 13 and have accounts. Who doesn’t have a fake FB account?? “I’m Peggy from credit card points…”