Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

Summary: Mark Zuckerberg in a speech said under-13's should be allowed on Facebook. Is this the most irresponsible statement from the company to date?

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Perhaps in Mark Zuckerberg's most irresponsible idea to date, he stated in a speech in California this week that children under the age of 13 should be allowed on Facebook, the world's largest social network.

In the speech, he said:

"My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age. Because of the restrictions we haven’t even begun this learning process. . . . If they’re lifted, then we’d start to learn what works. We’d take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe."

Considering there have been so many lapses in security, privacy and data-stealing applications on the site affecting tens of millions of users if not more, I cannot see for one second how Facebook is protecting even a minority of its users.

Though 7.5 million children under the age of 13 are on the site -- with a reported majority of that under the age of 11 -- Facebook should be spending its time removing them from potential harm's way instead of encouraging them to start an account or continue as existing users.

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) does not allow the collection or retention of data held on anyone under the age of 13. Facebook's terms and conditions currently state that under-13's are not allowed on the site. Yet, a simple age deception at the sign up process can allow anyone under the age of 13 to sign up without any extensive checks on the data they have submitted.

Accounts which are found to be of children under the age of 13 are cut off immediately, but it does not solve the problem altogether.

Considering the gross neglect that the company has continued to apply to its users, I am strongly against any child -- regardless of whether they are over the age of 13 or not -- to be on Facebook. In fact, I would even go as far to say that parents who do allow their child, particularly under the age of 13, are not effectively protecting their children from the dangers of submitting so much information to the social network.

I have argued before that today's younger generation are not 'lacking in experience', and if anything are becoming more adept to the adult world faster than before -- primarily through means of Facebook and fragile social relationships.

But nevertheless, in my eyes, it is socially irresponsible for Facebook to advocate children under the age of 13, who are already increasingly handing over personal data for which under law have effectively little right in handing over, and are not legally responsible to make such decisions yet.

While Facebook does make a clear and concerted effort in protecting children 13 and over, by implementing technologies to reduce and remove child abuse imagery, it is highly unethical to encourage children under the age of 13 to sign up to a service for which may not understand the consequences of their actions, and the long-term implications of their actions.

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45 comments
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  • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

    Pedobear approved!
    Tommy S.
    • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

      @Tommy S.
      i think this is not a worst idea ..he addressed the education aspects
      http://thenewscourier.blogspot.com/2011/05/kids-under-13-should-be-allowed-on.html
      TechExpert21
      • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

        @TechExpert21 .<br><br>First, he does not address education. He drops a few buzz words, with no shred or indication of any plan to enhance education.<br><br>Second, less control + more education is a nice idea, but not realistic.<br><br>How about we drop all gun legislation, but extensively educate our youth on proper gun handling and responsibility?<br><br>Or, how about we de-criminalize marijauna? So long as we educate our youth on the potential dangers and how to use it responsibly?
        UrNotPayingAttention
    • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

      @Tommy S.

      Mark Zuckerberg is 27 years old. I don't think he has the life experience to understand how profoundly bad an idea this is. The exception is if his heart is stone and he intentionally wants to introduce children into the searching arms of sexual predators.
      Admin71
      • You do know...

        @Bookmark71

        The vast majority of sexual predation takes place with someone the child *ALREADY TRUSTS*, right? Parent, uncle, teacher, scout master, doctor...

        While predators do frequent the web they tend not to hunt there. After all, on the net nobody knows you're a dog...
        wolf_z
      • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

        @Bookmark71
        You have no real clue.
        Allow them in legitimatley under controlled conditions.
        Say "NO" is not going to stop them. Be realistic.
        Take a situation and explore the good that can come out of it.
        Just jumping onto the "OMG Pedo Shopping" bandwagon is juvenile and shows you have not really given any thought into the suggestion.

        :|
        rhonin
      • &quot;haven't given any real thought into the suggestion&quot;

        @rhonin
        It sounds like you haven't either... because we aren't talking [i]just[/i] about Facebook accounts for under 13 year olds...

        Zuckerberg is talking about changing regulations and statutes for data collection and mining on children under 13 (even @ 13, the current law is assinine).

        It is from [i]that[/i] perspective that the majority of abuse would be personified by changing this practice. Not account abuse, or online activity, or even pedofiles (which, by the way, I agree is a stupid argument).
        UrNotPayingAttention
      • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

        @chmod 777<br>Have you looked at public schools lately?<br>Everything they do it tied into corporations or organizations that leverage and sell this info. Almost all funcraising looks to leverage our children as the front end with a protion going to the schools.<br>Now add anything your child signs up for or is registered for by themselves, parents or... yup - public institutions.<br><br>Let's be realistic here.<br>A Facebook makeover has the potential to be a positive step.<br><img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink"><br>Facebook is just a drop in the bucket.
        rhonin
      • Predators &quot;tend not to hunt there&quot; on the web? Seriously?

        @wolf_z

        You can't be serious about that statement, or you don't know anybody in law enforcement. I'm retired now, but I worked with the FBI's "Innocent Images" Task Force during my time on the job, and there are things I've seen that I can never UN-see, unfortunately. And I can tell you with 100% certainty, predators DO hunt on the internet, and they do set up "meets" to get together with the children they find. Fortunately, they were always met with a pair of silver bracelets and a free ride to the local jail in the cases where was involved.
        SAStarling
  • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

    As a parent, I'm fine with that because I can supervise my child online and make sure they're receiving their information about online safety from me, not some random source.
    Real World
    • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

      @Real World I'm very glad you do. You're a credit to parents everywhere. More parents should be engaged with their children's activities online.
      zwhittaker
      • 100% Agree with @zwhittaker

        Thank you thank you for taking on ALL of the responsibilities as a parent. That includes what your kids do when you're not around. I'm tired of people whining and complaining about what the world is exposing their kids to. How about, take action and be a freaking parent.

        Good on you.
        gergyllaer
      • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

        @zwhittaker
        i think this is not a worst idea ..he addressed the education aspects
        http://thenewscourier.blogspot.com/2011/05/kids-under-13-should-be-allowed-on.html
        TechExpert21
    • But, Real World...

      @Real World
      This isn't about parental supervision of any activity, or education.

      This is about changing data collection and retention statutes...the implications of which go far beyond how well you raise, monitor, or educate your child. If anything, COPPA needs to be given a steriod shot or two.

      I'm a bit surprised Zuck's advisers are not screaming at him. There is a *bit* of a conflict of interest here, given how Facebook earns revenue.

      Similarly, the CEO's of Smith & Wesson or Beretta don't lobby for the easing of firearm legislation; they let (have) groups that take up that fight.
      UrNotPayingAttention
  • Warm up the lawyers

    The amount of truly intrusive and Orwellian technology it would take to actually enforce an Internet-based age verification system makes all these kinds of bleats about "keeping children safe" laughable.

    Yes, the little miscreants can lie about their age. Now stop pretending it's otherwise, or that rattling bigger swords at web site proprietors can change that.

    Zuckerberg is right. If you remove the incentive for people to lie, you can get a handle on the problem and possibly manage it. If you insist on driving the adventurous little brats into hiding, all you've done is make it impossible to protect them.
    Robert Hahn
    • How would you feel if ...

      @Robert Hahn , how would you feel if your son or daughter got online, lied about their age, created a profile, and then accidentally got messed up with a pedophile (which is probably what would happen)? That's the risk that Zuckerberg and anyone else takes when they go against the COPPA act. I'll bet if some random pervert just came up to your kid and tried to molest them, you would want to beat their face until it was bleeding, right? Why not protect kids online as strongly?

      Zuckerberg has to be REALLY out-of-this-world ignorant to not realize that fact. Why is the world trying to steal innocence from the children? Give them their innocence and leave them alone. They don't need the drama very early in life; it only makes for a future depression case.
      ryeckley82
      • False premise

        You're pretending that Zuckerberg can do something about that. He can't. I once worked for a company that spent a lot of time and money trying to find a way to detect under-13s who lie about their age ( this problem goes far beyond Facebook). The kind of sneaky measures examined included pulling up public records data (birth certificates, property ownership, etc.), credit ratings (don't have one? You're probably underage) and worse. All stuff that you'd be the first one to howl about if it ever came to light: Facebook snoops on you, film at 11!

        You need to get it through your head: kids will lie. They've been doing it for decades to buy beer, they'll do it online in a heartbeat. There is no way -- as in NO WAY -- for someone processing a registration form to detect this without venturing into Serious Privacy Ugliness.

        If the age limit were 18 instead of 13, you could cover your butt legally by asking for a credit card number, since you have to be 18 to sign contracts. But even then, the smarter kids can get the number and type it in.

        You're talking as if Zuckerberg can stop this if he only wants to. Please... stop believing in the Truth Fairy.
        Robert Hahn
      • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

        @ryeckley82
        i think this is not a worst idea ..he addressed the education aspects
        http://thenewscourier.blogspot.com/2011/05/kids-under-13-should-be-allowed-on.html
        TechExpert21
    • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

      @Robert Hahn

      It's not going to stop them from lying about their age.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Facebook CEO's worst idea to date: Profiles for under-13's

        @Cylon Centurion

        i think this is not a worst idea ..he addressed the education aspects
        http://thenewscourier.blogspot.com/2011/05/kids-under-13-should-be-allowed-on.html
        TechExpert21