Facebook says child privacy law shouldn’t apply to “Like” button

Facebook Child Protection

Facebook says it should not be held liable under child protection laws for use of its ubiquitous “Like” button by Web users under the age of 13 on websites other than Facebook. Further, the company says, a Facebook “like” is tantamount to free speech, and that limitations on the use of the “Like” button would violate the U.S. Constitution.

Presented in a 20-page letter (PDF) to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week, Facebook’s assertions come in response to proposed changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that would expand the definition of the word “operator” in the law. The social network argues that such a change could include “plugin providers,” such as Facebook. The problem, says Facebook, is that the rule change could potentially make all plugin providers “responsible for the actions and motivations” of third-party websites of which companies like Facebook have no control.

Moreover, says Facebook, social plugins are “widely used by educational sites,” and imposing greater monitoring of plugin usage would impose “burdensome compliance obligations” on these sites, which often lack the resources to do so.

“Requiring these sites or services and plugin providers to monitor each others’ information practices could result in the eradication of integrated plugins and the powerful features they facilitate,” wrote Facebook.

In addition to the financial strain placed on educational sites and plugin providers, the proposed changes to COPPA fail to clarify the burden of responsibility, says Facebook, which in turn “is likely to create serious disincentives against growth in Internet technologies.”

Facebook also argues in the letter that limiting children’s ability to click a “Like” button “would infringe upon their constitutionally protected right to engage in protected speech.”

As currently written, COPPA prohibits the collection of personal data of Web users under the age of 13 without explicit parental consent. Because of this, Facebook (and many websites and online services) expressly forbid pre-teens from signing up. Despite Facebook’s rules, an estimated 5.6 million children under 13-years-old have Facebook profiles. Facebook reportedly deleted the accounts of 800,000 pre-teens over the past year, according to a June study by Consumer Reports.

The FTC’s proposed rule changes (PDF) would expand COPPA to apply to not only websites, but all “online services,” including mobile apps, games, and online advertising networks. The changes would also limit the use of Web cookies, which track Web users’ online activities. Further, the changes would expand the definition of personal information to include IP address and geolocation data.

Facebook has reportedly been working on ways to allow for children under 13 to have profiles that are COPPA-compliant.

Mobile

Google hit with another fine by the EU, this time for $1.7 billion

Google has been fined for the third time by the EU, this time for breaching antitrust laws by requiring third-party websites using its search function to prioritize its ads over competitors.
Mobile

Flex your thumbs (and your brain) with these fun texting games

Gaming consoles keep getting more advanced, but you can still have fun with the good old Latin alphabet. Here are our picks for the best texting games, so you can make the most fun out of that limited data plan or basic cell phone.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or operating system.
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.
Social Media

New Zealand attack shows that as A.I. filters get smarter, so do violators

The shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand were livestreamed to social media, and while stats show networks are improving at removing offending videos, as the system improves, so do the violators' workarounds.
Photography

Insta-checkout? New Instagram service lets you shop without leaving the platform

Shopping on Instagram no longer means leaving the platform to checkout in a web browser. Instagram checkout launched in beta today with a handful of retailers, allowing users to checkout without leaving the app.