Why Facebook is After Your Kids in today’s NY Times reports that Facebook is lobbying to change the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Ace (COPPA), the 1998 law that bars websites from obtaining personal information for children 12 or younger without parental consent. Facebook wants more freedom to accept younger users–and there are already 7.5 million Facebook users under 13. The Times states:
We don’t really know yet how joining Facebook at a tender age affects kids socially and emotionally. There’s the fun and freedom of Facebook, and then there’s the Consumer Reports finding that the site exposed a million teenagers to bullying and harassment last year. What is clear is that Facebook thinks it needs access to kids’ lives in order to continue to dominate its industry. The younger the child, the greater the opportunity to build brand loyalty that might transcend the next social-media trend. And crucially, signing up kids early can accustom them to “sharing” with the big audiences that are at their small fingertips.
The article quotes Mark Zuckerberg about the benefits of “frictionless” sharing on Facebook:
“We help you share information, and when you do that, you’re more engaged on the site, and then there are ads on the side of the page. The more you’re sharing, the more — the model all just works out.”
The younger the age at which you become accustomed to Facebook’s view of your relationship to your personal information–you exist and share in order to generate advertisements tailored precisely to your demonstrated interests–the deeper Facebook’s hold on the details of your life.