Facebook had been reported to debate opening up the social network to users under the age of 13 as their parents were lying to get them in the social network, anyway. While they retorted saying that while Facebook had previously talked about the benefits the social network offered children, in no way did they mean that they were considering opening up the network. And now, the Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook is testing means to give under-13s access. Facebook had originally not provided access to under-13s, because of federal law that dictated how the information of an individual under the age of 13 might be used. In particular, if Facebook were to sell the information of a 12 year old for advertising, the parent of the 12 year old in question would have to consent first.
Facebook might open up?
Keeping that in mind, the methods that Facebook is testing to allow individuals younger than 13 include connecting their accounts with their parents' accounts. Parents would have control over who their kids have as friends as well as what applications they use. Opening up the social network to under 13s would also mean opening up certain revenue streams for Facebook. The social network could charge developers that make applications particularly for the younger demographic. Having parental control involved would also relieve Facebook of its legal obligations. The fact that kids lie about their age to have access to the social network puts it in a place of legal awkwardness where Facebook cannot sell their information without parental consent, but they inevitably are because the kids lied.
Of course, opening the social network up to children has sparked a fair amount of debate. While some individuals are of the opinion that Facebook should, in fact, open up and create a safe space for children, while other individuals think that Facebook should educate parents on their children lying to get in. Other concerns also include online bullying, if kids younger than 12 sign up. Do you think Facebook should let the young ones in? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Publish date: June 5, 2012 4:41 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 10:26 pm