Facebook reportedly considers access for pre-teens: Statement by Consumers Union

Experts

Policy Counsel
Senior Director of Federal Policy and the Washington Office

Campaigns

We empower consumers through education and action about communication and media issues involving telephone, cable, Internet and wireless services and equipment.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Facebook reportedly considers access for pre-teens: Statement by Consumers Union

WASHINGTON — The Wall St. Journal today reported that Facebook is developing technology that would allow children younger than 13 years old to use the site under parental supervision.

Last year, Consumer Reports released the results of a national survey that indicated at least 7.5 million children–more than one-third of the 20 million minors who actively used Facebook in the prior year–were younger than 13, which violates the site’s terms. In this year’s CR survey, the number dropped to 5.6 million Facebook users under the age of 13.

Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, said any move to permit younger children on Facebook should be backed up by a strong, robust policy to ensure that parents have full control over their children’s social networking experience, and that children’s information is not collected to target them with ads and marketing.

Ioana Rusu, regulatory counsel for Consumers Union, said, “More than 5 million pre-teens have managed to sign up for Facebook accounts. While we are glad that Facebook is seeking to address this problem, the company needs to ensure that it creates a safe, child-friendly space on the site, one that is fundamentally different from the space available to teens and adults. Facebook has to provide parents with effective tools to monitor and supervise their pre-teens’ activities. Plus, it shouldn’t collect information about these children for ads and marketing. If Facebook is serious about making the site a safer place for kids, it has to deliver stronger controls and education aimed at parents, and they shouldn’t target kids with ads.”

***

Media contact: David Butler or Kara Kelber, 202-462-6262