The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) has launched a new online guide to why parents should not let their kids under 13 on Facebook. It comes in response to what CDD says is Facebook's effort to open up the social network to kids 12 and under.
A 2011 Consumer Reports survey found that more than 5 million kids were on Facebook, something the company itself concedes, although Facebook policy does not allow kids to set up profiles.
Last year, Facebook indicated it was considering whether or not to open the network to kids. It told concerned members of Congress it had made no decision. CDD has decided and thinks the answer should be no.
CDD has been a longtime critic of online marketing to children, and the guide, Five Reasons Why Facebook is Not Suitable for Children Under 13, reflects that concern.
And while the Federal Trade Commission in July instituted new Children's Online Privacy Protection Act rules to increase those online protections for collecting data on mobile devices and via Web sites, "the rules cannot address all of the concerns that Facebook raises for children."
Facebook had not returned a request for comment at press time on the CDD guide, but just two weeks ago it put out its own guide to educators and community leaders about teens and online safety and privacy in general, and understanding Facebook in particular.
CDD's five reasons are:
- Children would become part of one of the Internet's most expansive personal data collection and profiling platforms.
- Children would be exposed to a new generation of highly persuasive and manipulative digital marketing practices.
- Facebook's marketing practices would take advantage of children's cognitive, social and emotional vulnerabilities.
- Children would be subjected to an onslaught of unhealthy food marketing — precisely at a time when childhood obesity has become a major crisis.
- There are no safeguards in place that can adequately protect children from Facebook's aggressive and harmful marketing and data collection practices.