Mark Zuckerberg says Children below 13 will use Facebook

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Facebook will challenge law stopping children using the site ‘at some point,' says founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The under-13s age should be allowed to use Facebook, the social network’s founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has said.

Speaking at a summit on innovation in schools and teaching in Newark, New Jersey, Mark Zuckerberg said that the current age limit would be challenged “at some point”.  Claire Perry, Conservative MP for Devizes, who has campaigned for online safety, said that ““I would be very uncomfortable about extending this and I think it’s very, very irresponsible of Facebook to be suggesting it.”

“With close parental supervision,  Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook site can be interesting and enjoyable. But I know from my own experience it is all too easy for a young child to get involved in situations that I think are really uncomfortable,” she said.

Facebook’s usual 13-and over age limit elsewhere is dictated by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which became Federal Law in America in 1998. Current UK legislation does not, however, preclude Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook from being used by under-13s but the site’s own terms and conditions do. The US is currently reviewing its COPPA legislation. In Spain, only those children 14-and-over are permitted to use Facebook because of national legislation.

Mark Zuckerberg claimed that the educational benefits of using Facebook were so great that children should be allowed to use the site. The site currently closes the accounts of 20,000 underage users per day.

"My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age,” Mark Zuckerberg said. “Because of the [legal] restrictions we haven't even begun this learning process. If they're lifted then we'd start to learn what works."

Facebook of Mark Zuckerberg has been criticized in the past for failing to police its own policies that prevent children from using the site, and by a range of government agencies for failing to prevent predators from using the site under an alias to groom children.

The NSPCC emphasised the need for media literacy and online education.  There have been great benefits brought by the internet but there online bullying is particularly prevalent on social networks. The Information Commissioner has said it is about the age of 12 when a child can understand the risks of handing over personal data and we would agree with that. We would like to see safety tools as prominent as possible, and social networking like Facebook should be proactively trying to identify individuals who pose a risk, not just reacting to reports from children.

America's Consumer Reports, however, claims that 7.5 million of Facebook's 600 million users are under 13 anyway. Facebook said a large proportion of under-age accounts were either set up by parents for children, or with parents’ knowledge.

A spokesman of Mark Zuckerberg for Facebook said that “Facebook is currently designed for two age groups, 13-18 year olds and 18 and up. We provide extensive safety and privacy controls based on the age provided. However, recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the Internet and Facebook that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don’t circumvent a system or lie about their age on the site of Mark Zuckerberg. We agree with safety experts that communication between parents or guardians and children about their use of the Internet is vital.”

Mark Zuckerberg: 13-year-old Children can be Allowed to use Facebook is an article written by  Matt Warman, a Consumer Technology Editor of   The Telegraph.  You can find more of his interesting articles in The Telegraph.

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