Now that Facebook has gone public, kids are the last area in the United States where there is a market potential. As the company considers letting kids younger than 13 years old in upfront rather than sneaking in through cracks in the system, there are growing concerns for lawmakers and a number of advocacy groups.
Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy stated, “Now that they’re public, kids are the last area in the US where there is a market potential. We urge Facebook to fogo collecting or using preteens’ information to show them ads, expose them to social media marketing practices, or analyze and track their activity using social analytics for commercial purposes. This includes information shared on the Facebook site and throughout its platforms, including its mobile service.“
Enforcing age restrictions on the Internet is a difficult issue, especially when many reports have shown parents want their children to access online content and services. Reps. Ed Market (D-Mass) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) asked Facebook for more information about the data the social network could someday collect from kids and whether it might be used for ads or shared with third parties. But Facebook has avoided spelling out any of its plans. The lawmakers released a letter Friday from the company that basically repeats Facebook’s previous statement that it has “made no final decision whether to change our current approach to prohibiting children under 13 from joining Facebook.”
Instead, Facebook promised to work with lawmakers if it decides to go that route. And the company devoted the letter to describing its work to keep child predators off the website, thwart bullying and provide resources to parents and minors.
Questions for the class:
1- Even with incredible market potential, are the rewards worth the risk for Facebook to fully open its doors to users that are 12 years and younger?
2- IF Facebook does, in fact, go this route, what are the least of precautions they should take in ensuring the safety of this younger user-base?