Those younger than 13 may have their accounts locked.
Facebook is tweaking its policies towards underage users, TechCrunch reports, and it will begin requiring those suspected of being younger than 13 years old to provide proof of their age. The move comes after a report from the UK’s Channel 4, in which an undercover journalist began working as a Facebook content reviewer. Though Facebook and Instagram require users to be at least 13 years of age — in order to comply with the US Child Online Privacy Protection Act — the report revealed that in practice, those rules were often ignored. “We have to have an admission that the person is underage,” a trainer told the reporter. “If not, we just pretend that we are blind and that we don’t know what underage looks like.”
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The change comes in response to an undercover documentary report by the U.K.’s Channel 4 and Firecrest Films that saw a journalist become a Facebook content reviewer through a third-party firm called CPL Resources in Dublin, Ireland. A reviewer there claims they were instructed to ignore users who appeared under 13, saying “We have to have an admission that the person is underage. If not, we just like to pretend that we are blind and that we don’t know what underage looks like.” The report also outlined how far-right political groups are subject to different thresholds for deletion than other Pages or accounts if they post hateful content in violation of Facebook’s policies.
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Across safety, privacy and truth, Facebook will have to draw the line on how proactively to police its social network. It’s left trying to balance its mission to connect the world, its business that thrives on maximizing user counts and engagement, its brand as a family-friendly utility, its responsibility to protect society and democracy from misinformation and its values that endorse free speech and a voice for everyone. Something’s got to give.