According to a recent article published by TOI, Facebook may relax the ban on children under the age of 13 from joining its site. Simon Milner, Facebook’s head of policy in Britain, who was quoted by Sunday Times as,
“There is reputable evidence that there are kids under 13 who are lying about their age to get on to Facebook.”
However, Milner also added that the decision is in a very early stage and the minimum age would be debated before it is implemented, specially in UK.
Is there a need?
Shocking as it may sound yet the basis on which Facebook is taking this decision comes across as a shrewd business one. Relaxing the age restriction will not solve the problem and cover its security flaw. Above all I won’t be surprised if Facebook does this for its own gain rather than being bothered about kids under 13 joining the popular network by entering false year of birth, with the help of their parents. The cash-rich firm that has recently gone public, has already got 900 million active users and looking to touch the sweet spot of 1 Billion. I’m not surprised that it will do so at the expense of children.
It is a known fact that school children are easily fooling the Facebook system and accessing it. One of my family members who is 12 years old, is doing the same and so are her school friends. However, Facebook as all social networks, has its positives and negatives. Online bullying is one of the common cases that are rampant over social media sites globally and we are also aware of how serious is Facebook in handling fake profile grievances. In a recent talk with her, she expressed that Facebook is a fun place till the time strangers start sending friend requests. So my belief is rather than reducing the age restriction and thinking to gain new signups, Facebook should think of how it can strengthen its security system. If users are fooling the system and using it then I believe it is a big concern that Facebook needs to address right away.
The article fails to state whether the relaxation of age would be applicable globally. But it’s also high time when parents and educational institutes should work on making children aware of the pros and cons of Facebook and social media in general. No doubt social media is a boon when used effectively for education and an overall growth for children but we need to educate the young generation. Along with this, we also need to think of how some other ‘protective networks only for school children’ could be effectively used, e.g. Eduora. Facebook is not at all a network that should be used by school children.
I don’t find this move by Facebook as an appropriate one and just found another reason how Facebook is killing itself. Do you find the new move justified?