Facebook Wants Your Tweens to Sign Up
Facebook to Allow Children Under 13?
Facebook wants your kids to sign up, even if they're under 13. Currently, Facebook's TOS disallows children under 13 from using the site, but everybody knows that kids use Facebook daily.
Facebook is exploring mechanisms to link a child's account to a parent's account, which is pretty much the worst idea we've heard all day. However, Mark Zuckerberg doesn't really care how awkward such a permissions like would be in real-life daily use. He has bigger problems. Namely:
- Facebook's 13-and-up age restriction is in no way enforceable. Kids use the site at will, so they may as well be monitored (i.e. advertised to).
- Facebook's growth is slowing, and it needs to boost signup activity and user engagement to keep its stock from swirling down the toilet.
- He's facing a class-action lawsuit from his own shareholders over the Facebook stock's poor performance.
Pre-teens are on Facebook in huge numbers. Apparently over 5 million kids under the age of 10 are on Facebook already. Issues like cyber-bullying and child predation (the former is far, far more common in real life than the latter) are used as arguments against allowing kids on Facebook; but, again, they're on Facebook anyway.
A bigger concern is one of privacy. Let's say your kid is not getting bullied or lured into a clown van: best-case scenario still has him/her getting shadowed by advertisers. That's kind of creepy, too, no? Currently, direct advertising to kids without parental consent is banned by COPPA, but Mark Zuckerberg has already said that he wants to change the law.
Allowing pre-teens to sign up for Facebook is not about keeping them safe: it's about re-valuing the advertising that's sent their way. Sadly, there is no realistic way to definitively keep kids safe online. The internet is a framework for communication, communication between people. Many people just do not behave well online. We already know this.