Group Urges Facebook Not to Target Ads to Kids

James Emery

A coalition of consumer rights groups urged Facebook not to aim advertisements at young children or track their online activity.

Facebook has millions of underage users, many of whom lie and say they are over the requisite age of 13, the New York Times reported. As we have previously written,  many parents are even aware of their young child's illegal use of Facebook. An estimated 55 percent of 12-year-olds have a Facebook account.

Facebook stirred up controversy earlier this month when it began exploring dropping the Facebook age limit and connecting children's accounts to their parents' so the social network can bypass its ban on users under 13. Groups that sent the letter Monday to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg included the Consumers Union, the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action and the Consumer Federation of America. The alliance pressed Facebook to stop tracking children under 13 and not to aim ads at them.

“We want assurances that any space created for children under the age of 13 on the site is safe, parent-guided and controlled, and, most importantly, free of ads," according to the letter.

“Enforcing age restrictions on the Internet is a difficult issue, especially when many reports have shown parents want their children to access online content and services,” Facebook commented to the Times. “We welcome today’s recommendations by consumer, privacy, health and child groups as we continue our dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policy makers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment.”

It would make sense that Facebook would want those under 13 to join the social network. Already we have written how Facebook is experiencing slow growth and those under 13 would be a big addition to its membership and its bottom line.
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