You, Starring in Your Own Commercial

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.

3 Replies to “You, Starring in Your Own Commercial”

  1. Shannon Tang

    Although many
    people say that kids are growing up faster these days, kids aren’t
    maturing  faster. They may be more in touch with current slang, trends,
    and they may be exposed to mature content at an earlier age but that doesn’t
    mean they’re not kids anymore. Letting children under 13 release as much
    personal information as they want without parental consent leaves them more
    prone to pedophiles, stalkers, cyber bullies etc. 
    There’s so much clutter amongst the educational resources and media on the internet that I don’t think uncontrolled web-surfing is safe or necessary for a present day childhood.

  2. Anand Brahmbhatt

    12 is just too young to be on the book. I don’t want my 12 year old cousins on it. My friend always comments on how she wants facebook to be exclusively for college students- like it used to be. Maybe even high school students. Right now it’s connecting everyone, that’s great, but 12 is just too young to be that socially involved already. You’re still learning how to become an educated person, and I feel like becoming involved with Facebook would lead to laziness (maybe not in all but some cases). Parents need to monitor this.

    That said, it’s alsto important to realize the effects of cyberbullying. There have been many cases in which online information has been used against a teen — college age, high school age, etc by people of the same age or significantly older. Why make these kids, yes KIDS, this vulnerable? 

    • Anonymous

      If FB was limited to college students then what would your friend do after she graduates? Stop using social networking?


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