Consumer Reports: 7.5 million Facebook users are under minimum age

facebook-banner-logoA newly published survey by Consumer Reports reveals that millions of Facebook users are actually below the social network’s minimum age limit, reports CNet. According to Facebook’s terms of service, no one under the age of 13 is permitted to have an account. By Consumer Reports’ count, about 7.5 million have slipped beneath the bar.

The survey corroborates evidence found in a 2010 study my security firm McAfee, which showed that about 37 percent of 10 to 12 year old are on Facebook. In total, about 20 million Facebook users are under the age of 18.

“Using Facebook presents children and their friends and family with safety, security and privacy risks,” said Consumer Reports in a press statement. “In the past year, the use of Facebook has exposed more than five million online U.S. households to some type of abuse including virus infections, identity theft, and–for a million children–bullying.”

In an attempt to preemptively extinguish the inevitable fires of outrage from parents, Facebook said before the study’s release that “recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the Internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don’t circumvent a system or lie about their age.” The company added that “we appreciate the attention that these reports and other experts are giving this matter and believe this will provide an opportunity for parents, teachers, safety advocates, and Internet services to focus on this area, with the ultimate goal of keeping young people of all ages safe online.”

While critics may accuse Facebook of skirting its responsibility to keep young children off its site, the social network’s recommendations that parents teach their kids which websites are appropriate, and monitor their online activity to ensure they aren’t doing something they shouldn’t echos the findings of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force (ISTTF), which worked with MySpace in 2009 to find out if age verification on websites actually works. (Hint: It doesn’t.)

According to Larry Magin, who served as a member of the ISTTF, Facebook’s requirement that no one under the age of 13 be allowed to use the site stems from regulations outlined in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was enacted in 1998. According to COPPA, websites must receive parental permission before it can allow anyone under age 13 to log in.

Since it is so technically difficult for websites to keep pre-teens from lying about their young ages, Consumer Reports recommends that parents monitor their children’s Web use with the help of spying tools like SafetyWeb or SocialShield, which keeps track of Internet activity.

For further advice about children and Facebook, check out the free e-book, “A Parent’s Guide to Facebook” here.

Computing

After fourth attack, hacker puts personal records of 26M people up for sale

A serial hacker going by the name of Gnosticplayers is selling the personal data of 26 million people who have been using the services of six different companies from across the world.
Deals

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…
Emerging Tech

Cosmic dust bunnies: Scientists find unexpected ring around Mercury

A pair of scientists searching for a dust-free region near the Sun have made an unexpected discovery: a vast cosmic dust ring millions of miles wide around the tiny planet Mercury.
Emerging Tech

Don’t get burned! How to back crowdfunding projects the smart way

In the world of crowdfunding, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. There's a million reasons why a project might fail. But with this handy guide, you'll be able to spot the signs of a sketchy project and decrease your chances of getting…
Social Media

Twitter takes a cue from Instagram and Snapchat with new quick-swipe camera

Twitter is giving the "what's happening" treatment to photos and video by allowing users to access the in-app camera fast enough to catch and share the moment. The new Twitter camera is now accessible with a swipe.
Social Media

Yep, it’s not just you. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are down for many

Facebook's family of apps has been suffering issues for much of the day. Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook itself have been out of action for users around the world, with the company scrambling to sort it out.
Social Media

Facebook may soon let you watch live TV with friends in Watch Party

Facebook Watch Party is designed to allow friends to watch together, even when they can't be in the same physical space. Now, that feature could be expanding to include live TV. Facebook announced a test of the feature, starting with live…
Social Media

Federal investigation digs into Facebook’s data-sharing deals

Facebook confirmed it is cooperating with a federal criminal investigation. According to a report, the company is under investigation for sharing user data with smartphone and tablet companies.
Social Media

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

Facebook, if you didn't already know it, suffered a bit of an issue on Wednesday, March 13. An issue that took down not only its social networking site, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. On Thursday it offered an explanation.
Gaming

Snapchat could soon let you play games in between your selfies

If a new report is accurate, Snapchat will be getting an integrated gaming platform in April. The platform will feature mobile games form third-party developers, and one publisher is already signed on.
Social Media

Twitter is testing a handy subscription feature for following threads

Twitter has recently started testing a feature that lets you subscribe to a thread so that you’ll no longer need to like a comment or post to it yourself in order to receive notifications of new contributions.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.
Computing

There’s more space on MySpace after ‘accidental’ wipe of 50 million songs

MySpace is no longer a safe refuge for music and media produced in the 2000s. It said that almost any artistic content uploaded to the site between 2003 and 2015 may have been lost as part of a server migration last year.
Computing

Intel and Facebook team up to give Cooper Lake an artificial intelligence boost

Intel's upcoming Cooper Lake microarchitecture will be getting a boost when it comes to artificial intelligence processes, thanks to a partnership with Facebook. The results are CPUs that are able to work faster.