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.

Giveaways

Win the new Square Off Kingdom Set automated smart chess board

The all-new Square Off Kingdom Set "smart" chess board takes this centuries-old game into the 21st century, letting you play against AI or compete with millions of players from all around the world -- and it even moves the pieces for you.
Mobile

With a public API, Venmo’s default privacy settings expose private user data

Fans of Venmo may want to consider changing their privacy settings. A security researcher was able to analyze over 200 million Venmo transactions through its public API, which exposed many private details about its users.
Cars

Lyft wants to partner with cities to add bike and scooter sharing

Lyft announced a multi-mode transportation plan to bring bike and scooter sharing to cities. To kick off the new initiative Lyft will invest $1 million to help nonprofits establish income eligible transportation programs.
Mobile

Split your Uber charges with friends more easily than ever with Venmo

After noting that more than six million Venmo transaction descriptions included the word "Uber," the PayPal-owned app, Venmo, decided to help users cut down on the number of steps needed to repay friends. 
Smart Home

Two U.S. senators think your TV is spying on you, ask the FTC to investigate

U.S. Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate smart TV privacy policies and practices. The Senators say smart TVs can build viewer profiles that include political affiliations.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in July 2018, from ‘Coco’ to ‘Jurassic Park’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Laptop screen extenders and self-healing tents

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

The '80s are alive as first 'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser goes to the mall

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Computing

Chrome is still our favorite browser (but Firefox is catching up!)

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options you have out there. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most…
Product Review

The MacBook Pro has been updated with 8th-gen processors, but is it worth buying?

The MacBook Pro is a controversial laptop these days -- and that's unfortunate. Due to some divisive changes Apple made to the functionality of the MacBook Pro, fans are more split. Does the 8th-gen refresh change that?
Computing

Need the FCC to handle a problem? A formal complaint will cost you $225

The FCC voted on a new rule intended to streamline informal and formal complaints. The change sees informal complaints referred back to the original company and formal complaints costing $225.
Mobile

The world can be your oyster with a little help from the best travel apps around

Traveling doesn't need to be a time-consuming nuisance. Our handpicked selection of the best travel apps will keep things simple, whether you need cost comparisons for hotels or directions to renowned eateries.
Computing

Relive 1998 as live chat rooms roll out across Reddit in a limited beta

Reddit is slowly rolling out real-time chat rooms across a limited number of subreddits. Currently in beta, Reddit Chat went live in 2017 for a small group of around 7,000 users. Reddit is now expanding this service.
Movies & TV

Tired of Netflix? Here's where to find free, legal movies online

We've spent countless hours digging around the web to find the best sites for streaming free movies online. Not only are all of these sites completely free to use, they're also legal and trustworthy.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Home Theater

Banish the bunny ears (and monthly bills) with these excellent indoor antennas

When transitioning away from cable and satellite, finding the best HDTV antenna for your area can be touch. To help, we've compiled our picks of the best indoor HDTV antennas you can buy.
Business

Tinder begins testing Bitmoji feature in Mexico and Canada using Snap Kit

Using Snapchat's latest developer platform known as Snap Kit, Tinder has begun testing the Bitmoji feature in Mexico and Canada. By connecting their Snapchat and Tinder accounts, users are able to send Bitmojis through the dating app.
Photography

3 simple things you can do to step up your selfie game

Taking a selfie might seem simple enough, but there's more to it than meets the eye. Here are three elements to keep in mind the next time you take a selfie to share on social media.
Photography

What is portrait mode? How tech helps smartphones capture a better you

Several years ago, portrait modes started showing up on phones and quickly became one of the most popular ways to capture selfies, profile pics, and more. But how does portrait mode work, and how much difference does it make?
Social Media

You could soon shop on Snapchat with a new visual search tool called Eagle

Shopping and Snapchat could soon be synonymous. As originally reported by TechCrunch, the popular social media platform is experimenting with a new visual search feature called "Eagle."
Mobile

Ready to party? Pinterest expands group boards with new activity feed, threads

Pinning with a group? Pinterest group boards are now more conversation-friendly. A new activity board collects all the changes in one place, while new threads encourage group conversations among the Pins and comments.
Social Media

Augmented reality is coming to Facebook — in the form of advertisements

Augmented reality is coming to Facebook, but perhaps not in the way that you would have wanted. Facebook announced on Tuesday, July 10 that it has begun testing AR advertisements within its Newsfeed.
Photography

Instagram’s question stickers bring comment-like interaction to Stories

Instagram Stories lack some of the interaction options from the traditional feed but that is not stopping Instagram from coming up with new ways to interact. The sticker allows you to ask a question and get open-ended responses.