In recent months, despite a large amount of talk about the privacy problems related to the world's most popular social network, rumors have swirled that it would change its policies to allow younger users.
Facebook may soon make the decision to start allowing those under the age of 13 to sign up for its site, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal
. This is likely because despite the current age limitations the site has in place, as many as several million of its users worldwide fall well under that 13-and-up restriction, and use Facebook every day. A recent survey by Consumer Reports found that as many as 7.5 million of these kids were using the site, and more than five million of those were under the age of 10.
"Recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to enforce age restrictions on the Internet, especially when parents want their children to access online content and services," Facebook told the newspaper when asked for comment on the new policies it might roll out. "We are in continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policy makers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment."
Some security and privacy experts even note that by allowing those younger than 13 to sign up for the site officially, it might allow their parents or guardians to keep better tabs on their online habits, the report said. Most kids are likely signing up for the site without the permission of those adults, and, theoretically, by allowing for more monitoring and control by them for kids' profiles, it could increase their security and privacy.
Data from Microsoft Research, for instance, indicates that about 36 percent of parents were aware that their kids had joined Facebook before the age of 13, and the large percentage of that portion helped their kids in doing so, the report said. In doing so, and by willfully skirting the site's own restrictions, they might be more engaged in dealing with the issue. Eduard Goodman
, chief privacy officer for Identity Theft
911, writes regularly about how social networking can jeopardize consumers' privacy, and what can be done to address those concerns.
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