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Latest News Article: Primary Schools and Facebook
Despite Facebook’s popularity and ease of use, the terms and
conditions of the social networking phenomena clearly state users must be over
13 years old to sign up for an account. This is due to the data protection laws
in the U.S. regardless of the nature of the application. A common misconception
is that this does not apply to the UK and that therefore it is acceptable for
primary school children to be encouraged in its use.
The LGfL eSafety group would strongly advise London schools
that this is not the case. The UK Safer Internet Centre (SWGfL) have very close
working links with Facebook and at the Safer Internet Centre national eSafety
briefings this year, the advice was as follows:
- It is known under 13s use Facebook and this is an on-going problem
because the environment is not suitable for younger pupils. Continuing to
support and educate young people is critical, but we should bear in mind the
legalities of under 13s on Facebook.
- Any under 13 signing up to Facebook does so with a falsified date
of birth, which is, technically, fraud, though law enforcement would never be
used deal with this problem.
- Facebook has to comply with COPPA (Children's
Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998). This means Facebook may not hold
any details of young people under the age of 13 and they may not advertise to
this group either. This legal restriction applies to Facebook regardless of
where the child is signing up from (America or the rest of the world).
- Conclusion: Facebook is for over 13s only.
13 to 18 year olds are
treated as minors and have additional privacy aspects enforced. For further
reading the UK safer
Internet Centre has produced a useful guide to Facebook privacy settings which
can be found here: http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/ufiles/Facebook%20Checklist1.pdf