Zuckerberg Takes Back Under-13 Remarks, But Not Really
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg attempted today to clarify his controversial remarks about fighting existing U.S. laws to open Facebook up to children under the age of 13. Speaking at the e-G8 forum in Paris, Zuckerberg said, “We just haven’t gone there yet,” according to a transcription by paidContent.
It’s not clear what the initial question was, but Zuckerberg claimed he was misinterpreted: “That’s not what I said,” Zuckerberg said. “The current regulations make it difficult for people aged under 13 to use Facebook. In the U.S., a parent has to either fax in a signature or have a credit card and verify they want their child to sign up….
“In the future, it makes sense to explore that. We would need to try to figure out a lot of ways to make sure they are safe. That’s extremely important. That’s not on the top of the list for things for us to figure out right now.”
So yes, allowing kids under 13 on the site does appear to be what Zuckerberg both said and meant in his remarks last week, despite any backpedalling. It’s just he doesn’t want to do it right just yet.
The regulations he’s referring to are part of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires sites that disclose children’s information to third parties to get parental consent by mail, fax or a special kind of digital signature.
Here’s a Facebook spokesperson’s statement on the matter:
Facebook is currently designed for two age groups (13-18 year olds and 18 and up), and we provide extensive safety and privacy controls based on the age provided.
However, recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the Internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don’t circumvent a system or lie about their age.
As Mark noted, education is critical to ensuring that people of all ages use the Internet safely and responsibly. We agree with safety experts that communication between parents or guardians and kids about their use of the Internet is vital. We believe that services such as Facebook have a role to play in encouraging this.
Our recent announcements around social reporting (http://on.fb.me/i2NhVu) and our Family Safety Center (http://on.fb.me/le4dec) are testimonies to our ongoing efforts to ensure we are giving detailed and helpful advice to help support these conversations.
Just as parents are always teaching and reminding kids how to cross the road safely, talking about Internet safety should be just as important a lesson to learn.