Facebook seems to bet on under 13 to broaden the audience of its subscribers. However to achieve this, Mark Zuckerberg will have to change the structure of the social network because entry is prohibited for the under 13 years children. This age limit is imposed by a 1998 law for the protection of children online (Privacy Protection Act). Therefore, Facebook has to receive clearance of the parents to collect or share personal information of children under 13.
In fact, opening of the social network to children under 13 is in talks for a long time and to deal with the limitations imposed by the Privacy Protection Act, Facebook has started developing some sort of parental control that allows the parents to monitor their children who wish to join the social network. On May 29th, Facebook has filed an application for patent that intends to overcome the limitation of the Privacy Protection Act. The patent allows children under 13 to create accounts when the information is matched to their parents’ Facebook profiles. Additionally, parents would be able to view and manage their child’s profile and account settings.
If the patent will be approved, Facebook could gain millions of new users and focus on a new target by expanding their services and advertising business at the same time. However, there is no shortage of criticism and doubts over Facebook’s decision to bring under 13 years children to the social network.
Some analysts are wondering how it would really make a parent to administer their children’s activities on the social network that cannot be monitored continuously. In addition, there are doubts about how to actually verify the identity of the parents. Already, there are many under 13 children who have joined this social network illegally.
Facebook will have to convince the Federal Trade Commission to make its project real, but it is not going to be easy.