Facebook it looking into options that would allow children under thirteen to create a Facebook. The objective is too give parents control over how the accounts are used, which is proving to be difficult. The Detroit Free Press reports, in a statement Facebook said that it has been working to address the problem of children’s online safety and privacy.
In an e-mail statement, Facebook said, “Many recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to enforce age restrictions on the Internet, especially when parents want their children to access online content and services. We are in continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policymakers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment.”
U.S Rep. Mary Bono Mack-R (CA) said in an e-mail statement, “Relaxing rules that bar kids from joining the world's largest social network might help Facebook lure advertisers that are eager to reach Web surfers at an early age. Facebook -- already accused by regulators of failing to protect members' privacy --- must be careful to shield young users and keep them safe online. In developing this new technology, Facebook needs to proceed with an abundance of caution. Very strict privacy protocols must be in place before younger children are allowed on social-networking sites. Before this happens, Facebook also has a responsibility to expand its efforts to educate parents and preteens about the dangers of cyberspace and how to use the Internet and social networking in a safe way." Mack heads a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that has looked at online privacy issues.
Users of all ages currently have Facebook pages. Younger users are able to simply lie about their age when they create their profile. ConsumerReports.com reports “Children under 13 aren’t supposed to use Facebook. We project from our survey that the company closed about 800,000 such accounts in the last year. But some 5.6 million underage kids still have accounts, our survey suggests. And 800,000 minors were harassed or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook. Our survey also shows that most parents who knew their preteen used Facebook had not discussed online threats with them or “friended” them, while up to a third did nothing to keep up with their children’s Facebook activities.”
Facebook, headquartered in Menlo, CA has not made a final decision at this point; however the opportunity could open up bids for advertisers on the social networking site. Younger viewers bring in a different variety of advertisers. Facebook is now a publicly traded company, which changes their desire to reach new advertisers and new markets. The value of the stock for Facebook has tumbled since it went public. This may offer an option to increase the value and open up a whole new World of users.