"There are people who lie. There are people who are under 13 [accessing Facebook]," Mozelle Thompson, Facebook's chief privacy adviser, told the The Telegraph (Sydney, Australia). "Facebook removes 20,000 people a day, people who are underage."
When asked by the Australian parliamentary online safety committee how Facebook can detect those lying on age forms, Thompson replied, "It's not perfect."
In fact, it's relatively easy. A standard online form asks a user if he or she is 13 or over, and the user can tell the truth or not. ComScore estimates about 3.6 million of kids under 12 use Facebook in the United States.
Last week, a story in the New York Times highlighted the number of those under 13 who skirt the age requirement often with parental consent. Many began using Facebook or other online community in elementary school and many parents see nothing wrong with it. “It’s not like there’s a legal age limit for being on the Internet," said a parent whose 11-year-old son uses Facebook. He told the social media site he was 15.
There are obvious reasons why there are federal age requirements for Internet use: sexual predators, cyberbullying, adult content and explicit language. Most very young children are not equipped to be dumped at the equivalent of an online adult cocktail party and fend for themselves.
While many want most of the security to be created by tech companies, they are ignoring the reality that many parents don't see a problem with their underage children using a social network with 600 million users. The best online security is a connected parent who carefully monitors online usage -- including only allowing children to use computers in a central location, not a bedroom, easily accessed by a parent -- and one that doesn't allow their children to use Facebook if they are younger than 13.