Facebook requires that users on the social network and Instagram be at least 13 years of age. That is partly due to the requirement to comply with the U.S. Child Online Privacy Protection Act. However, a recent investigation revealed that those rules were often ignored. The investigation was conducted by an undercover journalist from UK’s Channel 4 who started working as a Facebook content reviewer.
“We have to have an admission that the person is underage,” the journalist was told by a trainer, who added that “If not, we just pretend that we are blind and that we don’t know what underage looks like.”
Facebook noted in a blog post after the investigation was published that “Since the program, we have been working to update the guidance for reviewers to put a hold on any account they encounter if they have a strong indication it is underage, even if the report was for something else.”
TechCrunch reports that Facebook will now start actively enforcing its age policy and that users who are suspected of being younger than 13 years will be asked to provide proof of their age. This will apply to Instagram as well.
Facebook only used to investigate accounts if they were specifically reported for potentially being underage. The company has now made an operational change to its policy for reviewers and they will now lock accounts of any underage user they come across and even if that user was reported for something else.
This operational change in policy doesn’t mean that Facebook will start sweeping underage users off of its website but its reviewers won’t ignore the accounts now if they come across one.
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