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Facebook tests parental-guidance tools in plan to pull in under-13s

Pre-teens a lucrative ad target

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Facebook is testing ways to open its social network to kids under the current cut-off age of 13.

Many pre-teens will typically circumvent Facebook's sloppy screening process by simply lying about their age during the sign-up process.

Facebook has acknowledged this widespread action by children under the age of 13 and is looking at ways for youngsters to access the site under parental supervision, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Of course, those untapped users could also help bump up ad sales now that the company has gone public.

According to the newspaper, Facebook is exploring a method that would link an under-13-year-old's account with that of their parents so that their activity on the network can be fully policed.

Facebook gave The Register this statement:

Many recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to enforce age restrictions on the internet, especially when parents want their children to access online content and services.

We are in continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policymakers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment.

However, it's understood that the company – which claims to be closing in on 1 billion users worldwide – is not about to reveal a new system that would grant official access to pre-teens wanting to use Facebook.

A review of online privacy rules relating to the protection of children in the US, aka Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), to which Facebook has already given its own formal response, is expected to be published by the Federal Trade Commission in the next few months. ®

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