Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) doesn’t technically allow users younger than 13 to sign up and create a profile, but unfortunately the social media giant admits that it has no way to police this rule.
This announcement comes out just days after a report highlighting that the number of minutes spent on Facebook hit a new record.
According to a report in the Guardian, some research seems to indicate that about a third of children between the ages of 9 and 12 in the U.K. have a profile on Facebook. The concern is that children who sign up could be exposed to online bullying, grooming and explicit content.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s U.K. and Ireland Policy Director Simon Milner calls this a “tricky” topic, admitting that they don’t have a system to verify the ages of users when they sign up. Many people aren’t even aware that Facebook has a rule requiring users to be at least 13 years old. The company created the rule because of laws in the U.S. regarding online privacy for children.
Milner said he was aware that many children lie about their age when signing up, and even sometimes their parents help them do it. However, he said he doesn’t condemn, condone or support parents who allow their young children to use Facebook. He compared it to parents who take their children to movies that have a rating that’s above the age they would have to be in order to get in on their own.
In addition he said Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) polices itself to keep a tight handle on explicit content and to eliminate bullying and grooming on the site. Milner pointed out that one of the biggest problems they have is when children sign up and list their age as 18 or older, which enables their profiles to show up in the search function, making them more vulnerable to contact with strangers.
Experts say parents are the first line of defense when it comes to concerns about their children using Facebook. They say unlike the majority of teenagers, most younger children usually listen to their parents if they tell them not to use Facebook.