Facebook is set to lift the ban on children under the age of 13 using the site. A spokesperson of the company said the decision to lift the ban was consistent with the fact that a large number of under-13-year-olds are already using the social network.
Daily Mail reports that the announcement comes after Facebook's flotation on the stock market at a price of $38 per share. The valuation puts the company's worth at over $100 billion.
According to PC World, the present Facebook terms of service says that a member must be at least 13 years old to set up an account. However, recent Consumer Reports survey indicates that as many as 7.5 million Facebook users are under the age of 13 and that two-thirds of the number are under 10. According to CNN, about half of 12-year-olds and 64 percent of 13-year-olds are using Facebook.
CNet reports that a recent survey suggests that 38 percent of kids on Facebook are aged 12 or younger. The survey carried out by a company called Minor Monitor, suggests that 4 percent of kids on Facebook are 6 years old or less.
According to PC World, either the children or their parents lied about their age to allow them set up an account. CNN reports Facebook claims that it throws out about 20,000 underage children every day.
According to Daily Mail, Simon Milner, head of policy in Britain for Facebook, told Sunday Times: "There is reputable evidence there are kids under 13 who are lying about their age to get on to Facebook. Some seem to be doing it with their parents' permission and help. We have a strict under-13 rule because of legal issues in America and we apply the same rule all over the world. But a lot of parents are happy their kids are on it."
The policy of not allowing children under 13 to sign up for a Facebook account was intended to protect underage persons from exposure to online risks. The decision, according to Daily Mail, is informed by polls such as that commissioned by the charity Beatbullying in 2009, that revealed that girls were up to four times more likely to be victims of online bullying than boys. Daily Mail reports that school bullies are even banding up set up Facebook accounts to abuse their classmates.
According to PC World, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, had implied that Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prevents Facebook from allowing children to join the social network. PC World, however, believes that COPPA does not prevent Facebook from allowing children to join but that all that is needed is an extra effort from Facebook to guarantee online protection of children.
According to PC World, COPPA only requires a site operator to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing any personal information about a child. It requires Facebook to put measures in place to ensure that a parent or guardian is aware that the child is joining. It also requires that Facebook ensures that the parent or guardian grants permission for information to be collected and shared.
Daily Mail reports that decision to lift the ban could lead an influx of millions of new users signing up and could raise the number of people currently on the social network from the current estimate of 900 million to 1 billion mark.
However, Milner says the decision to lift the ban is still in the early stage of consideration.