FTC Is Not Surprised That A Lot Of Children Are On Facebook


A timely discussion on children’s online privacy took place yesterday at the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) Conference. Panelists reacted to the FTC’s proposed COPPA revisions, as well as recent studies documenting that many children under 13 are on social networking sites with their parents’ consent.

Despite COPPA’s restrictions, “we know that there are lots of kids registering for social networks and other services with their parents’ assistance,” said FPF’s Jules Polonetsky.

“We need to figure out a path to legitimacy for these ‘undocumented immigrants’ [children under 13] so that they can have the benefits of social networking, but with needed age-appropriate protections,” added Polonetsky.

Mamie Kresses, Senior Attorney for the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices, said she thought the findings from the research “miss the mark in some places” and that it is no surprise that there are a lot of kids on Facebook. Kresses added that parents want to be involved in their kids’ online activity and “that is what COPPA is about.” She emphasized that social networks have the option of providing notice and consent to allow children under 13 to participate under COPPA, while also recognizing that COPPA has costs associated with it.

Kresses reminded the crowd that comments to the FTC’s COPPA Revisions must be received by November 28, 2011. Learn more about the proposed revisions here.

Other panelists included Justin Weiss, International Privacy Director at Yahoo!, Brendon Lynch, Chief Privacy Officer at Microsoft, and Dona Fraser, Director of Online Privacy at Entertainment Software Rating Board.

Lia Sheena