Your kids could soon be tagging each other, sending event invites for playdates and commenting on other kids’ walls — provided they’re old enough to read. That’s the brave new future Facebook is imagining as it develops tools for children under 13, according to what “people who have spoken with Facebook executives” told the Wall Street Journal.
Right now children under 13 are banned from using Facebook. Still, many children sign up for the site simply by lying about their age, occasionally with their parents’ permission. The idea, according to the Wall Street Journal, is to acknowledge something that’s happening anyway and give more control to the parents.
The technology being developed reportedly includes the ability to connect a child’s account to a parent’s account, and the power for parents to vet their kids’ friend requests. While Facebook would almost certainly face scrutiny for opening its service up to children, apparently some at the company feel like it doesn’t have much of a choice, says the Journal:
Any attempt to give younger kids access to the site would be extraordinarily sensitive, given regulators’ already heightened concerns about how Facebook protects user privacy. But Facebook, concerned that it faces reputational and regulatory risks from children already using the service despite its rules, believes it has little choice but to look into ways of establishing controls that could formalize their presence on the site, people familiar with the matter said.
Currently there are a number of social networking sites for kids under 13, including Fanlala and Edmodo, but the ubiquity of Facebook has attracted at least 7.5 million children under age 13 to the site, according to Consumer Reports.