Facebook and Instagram are changing their review policy so they can actively block any users that are suspected to be underage.
Reviewers can now lock the accounts of under-13s if they were reported for a separate violation, or even if they were discovered by chance. The old policy meant reviewers could only investigate a profile if it was specifically reported for being underage.
A Channel 4 documentary titled Inside Facebook: Secrets of a Social Network discovered that Facebook reviewers used to be told to ignore accounts that they believed to belong to children aged 12 or younger.
This meant that children were getting hooked on the social network from a very young age. By the time they’d turned 13, Facebook would already had an extensive amount of data about their online actions and preferences.
A spokesperson for Facebook told TechCrunch: “This is a change to how reviewers are trained to enforce its age policy for both Facebook and Instagram. This does not mean Facebook will begin a broad sweep of its site hunting for underage users, but it will stop ignoring those it comes across.
“[Facebook’s] terms of service that already bar underage users remain the same, but the operational guidance given to moderators for enforcing that policy has changed.”
Many social networks and apps don’t require any form of identification when a new account is being created. Therefore, children using services inappropriate for their age is a problem on most platforms.
A child welfare organization in Taiwan has called for change, after it found that 37% of 12-17 year olds were using dating apps.
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