Facebook vs Parents in kids under 13 patent

A new patent filed on November 28, 2012 by Facebook titled ‘Managing Social Network Accessibility Based On Age’ has emerged and this one could spark a Facebook vs Parents debate.

Under the patent’s header title ‘Abstract’ it says, when a user having an age less than a threshold age (a child user) attempts to access an online service or perform actions using the online service, the online service obtains parental authorization from an additional user having a parental relationship to the user. The child user may identify the user having the parental relationship and the online service verifies the validity of the identified user’s account, the age of the identified user, and/or a connection between the identified user and the child user having a parental relationship type. The online service may make these verifications based in part social and transactional information associated with the identified user’s account. Upon successful verification, the online service allows the identified user to authorize account creation for the child user, and/or manage the account and actions of the child user. See the full patent here.

All the above seems reasonable if it applies to all parents and children, Facebook really wants children under the age of 13 on its social network with parental permission according to Politico. If this goes ahead it would mean a child under the age of 13 can create a Facebook profile with their parents approval, but this approval will come via the parent’s own Facebook account.

OK, so a child could set up a Facebook account but would have to come through their parents FB account, so a parent could leave their Facebook page open whilst leaving the room and a child could go set-up an account without their parents approval, how many parents would actually know to check to see if their child has set up a new account?

Way back in 2011 Mark Zuckerberg talked about kids under the age of 13 joining Facebook, back in 2012 many websites such as Gawker with its article titled ‘Why Not Let Little Kids on Facebook?’ some will agree and we know for sure many will not.

Adding a child under the age of 13 is rather simple, rules have to be changed to comply with COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), basically sites have to be careful in the way they collect data on kids, but with a simple process of adding “verified parent consent” to collect or share a child’s information to the Facebook Rules is all that was needed.

The above still needs to be approved by the Federal Trade Commission, allowing children onto Facebook will open a massive tin of worms. We all know there are children under the age of 13 on Facebook already, and parents know.

Facebook for under 13’s means parental approval, guidance and monetization to make sure no untoward is happening. Making sure children know NOT to add strangers, ONLY to add friends and family they know. It WILL happen when a parent checks their child’s Facebook account and they then have an argument because the child says the parent does not trust them – this is a can of worms we would not like to open and neither should Facebook.

If your child is under 13, would you allow them to have a Facebook account?

Facebook vs Parents in kids under 13 patent