Facebook and Instagram curbs Underage Users

From the 19th of July, Facebook would lock the accounts of all the kids below the age of 13. This shut down would also extend to the Instagram accounts of all the underage users.

Yes Facebook should have done this way before. This decision could have avoided many situations and crises. But well at least they’re initiating it now.

Well, previously Facebook did get reports on underage users, but the most that they could do, was to just look into the account. Clearly there was no stern actions taken and the kids would get away with their lies about the age.

But now, according to TechCrunch, it was confirmed that “an operational change to its policy for reviewers made this week will see them lock the accounts of any underage user they come across, even if they were reported for something else, such as objectionable content, or are otherwise discovered by reviewers.”


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How exactly does this new ban of the underage users take place?

This particular crack down would apparently work even if there hasn’t been any complaints against the violation of age policy.
Basically, Facebook would ask the users who have been blocked, to prove their age with any government-issued photo ID. Once it’s verified, the user could gain access once again.

This particular cross-verification process should have been enforced better in the first place. Facebook fails to ask for any proof of identity while Signing Up. This negligence has caused many children to lie and take access of Facebook.

The news was a complete shocker because Facebook’s Messenger Kids was an idea to attract the kids, aged from 6 to 12. So clearly Facebook is indeed contrasting with the idea of “Kids and Social Media”.

Facebook prohibits users under 13 to comply with the U.S. Child Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires parental consent to collect data about children. The change could see more underage users have their accounts terminated.

Last November, a damning report from Ofcom claimed half of British 12-year-olds and more than a quarter of ten-year-olds have their own social media profiles.
In the US, a study by Consumer Reports found that some 7.5 million Facebook users are under the age of 13.

So clearly, it would lower Facebook’s revenue. But this also means that the kids are not prey to any kind of restricted content.

Why the sudden decision?

Yes, this is a quite common question, and the answer is pretty much obvious.

One of the main reason is that Facebook ended up blindly believing self-certifications. This led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This was because the data research firm promised Facebook it had deleted surreptitiously collected user data. But Facebook failed to verify that.
Also, there were many other controversies involved with Facebook’s lack of security and interference of privacy.

Another cause as pointed out by TechCrunch, is Facebook’s response to an undercover documentary report by the U.K.’s Channel 4 and Firecrest Films that saw a journalist become a Facebook content reviewer through a third-party firm called CPL Resources in Dublin, Ireland.
A reviewer there claims –
“We have to have an admission that the person is underage. If not, we just like pretend that we are blind and that we don’t know what underage looks like.” 

Facebook published a blog post on July 16 and in an update on July 17, Facebook noted that –
“Since the program, we have been working to update the guidance for reviewers to put a hold on any account they encounter if they have a strong indication it is underage, even if the report was for something else.”

Hence, we will just have to wait, and find out if Facebook’s move was indeed fruitful in any way or not.

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Navaneetha Suresh

Navaneetha Suresh

Navaneetha, commonly known as "nav", loves to read, play badminton, play the keyboard and sing but when she's not doing any of those, she loves to write. What started as a high school hobby to write is now her ongoing passion.

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