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Facebook Considering Letting Kids Younger Than 13 Officially Join Site

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Facebook is not for kids. At least, it’s not supposed to be under the site current rules. But with the large number of preteens and kids logging on and lying about their age to use the site, it looks like Facebook may be starting to cave in.

Facebook, the social media giant, is now toying with the idea of letting users younger than 13 officially join the site.

Facebook Inc. is developing technology that would allow children younger than 13 years old to use the social-networking site under parental supervision, a step that could help the company tap a new pool of users for revenue but also inflame privacy concerns.

Mechanisms being tested include connecting children’s accounts to their parents’ and controls that would allow parents to decide whom their kids can “friend” and what applications they can use, people who have spoken with Facebook executives about the technology said. The under-13 features could enable Facebook and its partners to charge parents for games and other entertainment accessed by their children, the people said.

Facebook currently bans users under 13. But many kids lie about their ages to get accounts, putting the company in an awkward position regarding a federal law that requires sites to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting personal data from children.

This move could be a potential minefield for Facebook. Never mind that it doesn’t really do anything to address the kids already on Facebook lying about their age. There are a lot of concerns with Facebook’s privacy already, and now you want to throw kids into the mix? Facebook’s privacy is shaky at best, and in the site’s current condition, I don’t see them coming up with measures good enough to protect the kids, especially when you take into account all the creepers and perverts that lurk around the Internet just looking for easy targets, i.e. children.

If Facebook goes forward with this idea, they could be entering some very dangerous territory. And unless Facebook makes some major efforts to protect its users, I see this as nothing but a bad idea for the site.

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