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Here’s one to mull over for your status update.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg — sorry, make that childless 27-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg — recently weighed in on a controversy that's consuming both parents and technology nerds worldwide. The gazillionaire Silicon Valley wunderkind announced that kids under 13 should be allowed on Facebook, despite a law prohibiting them from doing just that. The fresh-faced face of Facebook even went so far as saying he plans to fight the law — eventually.
Why? Zuckerberg argues that his social networking behemoth could become a key educational tool in the ever-advancing digital age. "In the future, software and technology will enable people to learn a lot from their fellow students," he said at the NewSchools Venture Fund’s Summit in Burlingame, CA, according to a report in Fortune.
But what about all the potential ickiness associated with allowing kids to share their personal information online? The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act currently prohibits sites like Facebook from signing up members younger than 13. Meanwhile, parents and Internet safety experts worry that allowing tweens and younger kids to have their own Facebook accounts is just asking for trouble from pedophiles, bullies and a whole host of unsavory characters -- not to mention being yet another excuse for kids to avoid going outside to play.
On the other hand, Zuckerberg may be simply seeking to sanction what’s already being done. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, 7.5 million Facebook users are under 13, and 5 million are under 10. What's more, the publication found that these illegal accounts are largely unsupervised by parents!
Zuckerberg said that if the law changes and Facebook allows kids under 13 to join, the company would work hard to ensure privacy is protected. Sure, that’s easy for him to say — now. Will he change his mind if he ever has kids of his own?