Patt Morrison for June 4, 2012

Facebook may tap consumers under 13, but is Facebook appropriate for children?

Children on Facebook

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

In this photograph taken Februay 2, 2012, Indonesian children log on a Facebook page at an internet shop in Kuta in the resort island of Bali. Indonesia, a developing Muslim nation which claims the world's third-largest community of Facebook users, has become a showcase for the social networking site's global reach.

Following a less-than-stellar initial public offering of its stock, Facebook is hoping to tap a new and somewhat controversial consumer base: the under 13 crowd.

The social networking site is developing technology that would allow children younger than 13 years of age to use the network under parental supervision, but the move may inflame concerns about Facebook user privacy.

The system being tested connects children’s accounts to their parents’ and allows parents to control whom their kids befriend and what applications they can use, according to individuals who’ve spoken with Facebook executives. Facebook and its partners are also reportedly hoping to profit from parents willing to pay for games accessed by their children.

Currently, Facebook bans users under the age of 13, but Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said at a public event a year ago that he believed children under 13 should be allowed to use Facebook. The proposal will be even more difficult to implement in light of the Federal Trade Commission’s pending review of the implications of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, which regulates what personal information websites can collect from minors.

After its underwhelming IPO, Facebook is under growing pressure to sustain high revenue growth.

WEIGH IN:

How appropriate and safe is it to officially include children under 13 in the Facebook social network?

Guests:

James Steyer, CEO and founder, Common Sense Media; author of “Talking Back to Facebook”

Larry Magid, technology analyst for CBS News; founder, SafeKids.com


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