According to a Wall Street Journal report, it appears that Facebook is considering opening up its service to kids under the age of 13.
Forbes – Facebook Plans To End The ‘No Kids Under 13’ Farce
Kashmir Hill – Forbes.com
Opening Up Facebook is Essential Because Kids Need Training Wheels
Joshua Gans – Forbes.com
Currently, the service is technically only available to those who are 13 years of age or older, but there is no verification process – all you have to do is lie about your birthday to signup. My question is – if they move forward with this plan, how will Facebook verify that someone is under the age of 13, if they can’t do it now?
According to a 2010 Facebook blog post, privacy settings are a bit different for those between the ages of 13 and 18 than those for adults. Presumably, Facebook would carry those more restrictive settings to those under 13 – and possibly restrict them even further.
While I certainly see Gans’ point in thinking it best to have parents help to shape their children’s online experiences, I’m still not sure how I would feel about signing my kids up for the service at age five or six. Could we trust Facebook to get the privacy settings right – and keep them right – for our kids? Would their settings automatically be changed when they reach 13 – and would we/they be notified or have a chance to opt to keep their more restrictive settings?