Courts Order Facebook To Add Age Disclaimer On Home Page. No Entry For Children Under 13

Based on a PIL hearing on why children under 18 are accessing Facebook, the social network has been directed to add a disclaimer on its home page prohibiting children under 13 to enter it

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Facebook is always under the scanner. This Tuesday the Delhi High Court asked the social networking site to upload a disclaimer on its home page that children below the age of 13 years cannot open an account on it, as reported on NDTV Gadgets.

This outcome came as a result of the PIL hearing filed in April by K.N. Govindacharya, a former BJP ideologue and RSS patron as to how children below 18 years are accessing Facebook.

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Veerag Gupta, the lawyer representing Govindacharya cited a recent incident in Gurgaon where the police found minors involved in a sex and smoke party, after having gathered through Facebook.  He also raised a concern about Facebook and Google not having any email account to lodge complaint about minors misusing social networking sites.

In reply, Facebook pointed out that its Terms & Conditions specifically prohibited children under 13 years of age from registering a Facebook account and using Facebook services. Besides, users were forbidden from providing any false information on Facebook, creating an account for anyone other than him/herself without permission, or creating more than one personal account.

It was also informed that Facebook has different privacy settings for minors. Minors can only share content with friends, friends of those friends, and network (such as the school they attend) whereas adults can share content with all the Facebook users.

Is a disclaimer enough?

Age cannot be really verified as one can enter a false date of birth while opening an account. There are many instances of students under 13 joining the network, so as to keep up with their peers in class. An age disclaimer that proved ineffective while it exists in the Terms & Conditions, cannot become a deterrent simply because it will be boldly stated in the Facebook home page now!

Miscreants find their ways. The need of the hour is: a) online safety education, and b) laws to protect minors from being abused on social networks.

The good news is that online safety is being taken care of- Facebook has announced its collaboration with IAMAI to bring Internet Safety Education programs for students between the age group of 13 to 17. The education programs will train children, teachers and parents on how to reap maximum benefits from internet while not compromising on their safety and security.

Now the courts need to work on laws to protect these children too.

Image courtesy: NDTV Gadgets