- Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook: Do not target kids under 13
Media reports indicate that Facebook is considering modifying its current age restrictions to allow accounts for children 12 and under. Once on Facebook, children will become part of one of the Internet’s most expansive personal-data-collection and profiling platforms and will be exposed to highly persuasive and manipulative digital marketing practices. Facebook’s marketing will take advantage of children’s cognitive, social, and emotional vulnerabilities. And it’s not only the marketing that will be harmful. Younger children have not yet developed the maturity and judgment to handle the complexities of cyber “friendships” or grasp the potential consequences of sharing personal information online. Facebook isn’t safe for kids. Please tell Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to drop any plans to target kids 12 and under.
Media reports indicate that you are considering opening up Facebook to children 12 and under. We strongly urge you to keep the current age restrictions in place. Facebook is not a safe place for younger children.
If allowed on Facebook, children will become part of one of the Internet’s most expansive personal-data-collection and profiling platforms. The data Facebook uses is not limited to activities on the site, but extends across the Internet and even to offline sources. This unique access allows marketers on Facebook to create and implement finely-honed, targeted marketing with an unprecedented ability to activate and manipulate users’ behavior. Facebook users are inundated with messages designed to get them to buy products, engage with brands, and promote these same brands to friends.
Research consistently demonstrates that younger children are especially susceptible to advertising – and documents the harms of their exposure even to straightforward forms like television commercials. Facebook’s more insidious, sophisticated marketing techniques will be even more detrimental to children’s health and wellbeing. To give just one example, junk food marketers--who already have a strong presence on Facebook – will be able to interact with young children in new and powerful ways.
And it’s not only the marketing that will be harmful. Younger children have not yet developed the maturity and judgment to handle the complexities of cyber “friendships” or grasp the potential consequences of sharing personal information online.
In short, Facebook is not an appropriate platform for younger kids. Please do not target children.
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