Facebook has an age limit – only users 13 years old and above can have profiles – but children still have accounts by simply lying about how old they are.
As such, the social networking company is looking for ways for children to access Facebook without having to fake their ages. One way to do that is by connecting their accounts with the accounts of their parents, in a way to provide parental guidance.
A lot of services, not just Facebook, bans children under thirteen years of age. This is because these children need parental consent if companies want to collect data about them, in accordance with federal law.
In Facebook, a lot of personal information is collected, such as status updates or photos. Parental consent is a Herculean task for many companies, so they just keep kids under 13 off limits.
However, it is difficult to carry out that ban. An estimate points out that 7.5 million children under 13 are on Facebook.
For James Steyer, chief executive officer of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, Facebook just wants to expand its audience and profits by holding discourse regarding allowing children to join the social networking site.
He said, “…with the growing concerns and pressure around Facebook’s business model, the company appears to be doing whatever it takes to identify new revenue streams and short-term corporate profits to impress spooked shareholders.”
However, some analysts disagree, and think that this move has nothing to do with the IPO. Stephen Balkan, CEO of Family Online Safety Institute, suggests that by default, Facebook users under 13 years old could have their accounts set to “default only”, so strangers can’t see them. In addition, the kids’ parents could have the ability to choose who gets to befriend their kids on Facebook.