After making what appeared to be a controversial comment that children under the age of 13 should be allowed on Facebook despite current U.S. laws, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has clarified his original comment from the e-G8 forum in Paris in which it was believed he said “We just haven’t gone there yet.”
While it’s not clear what the original question was Zuckerberg now says:
“That’s not what I 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 to paraphrase, yes Mark did say kids under 13 should be on the site, but at the same time he’s not rushing into that market in terms of making it easier for those kids to join the site. As required by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, parents must mail, fax or digitally sign their consent of use and Facebook is operating under those rules.
AllThingsD received the following Facebook spokesperson 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 highlight 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.