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back to article Kids LIE about age on Facebook, gasps Brit ad watchdog

Britain's advertising watchdog has spotted the blindingly obvious: kids are giving false ages to allow them to sign up to Facebook and other social media sites. Mark Zuckerberg's free content ad network states that users have to be 13 or over to have a Facebook account. However, the company does not closely control this …

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A true shocker

but to be fair I used a false date of birth too. I was 'forced' to setup an account many moons ago so I could be a neighbour in those endless brain numbing games for all my family members. I would like to remove my account but that is no longer possible as I have forgotten the completely false DoB I used so I could not log in if I wanted to. Of course the up side is that I am using resources on FB with a zombie account but that comes with the downside that I am inflating their user numbers....is their no true win against FB?

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Re: A true shocker

Its always use a memorable false dob such as 31/12/1969

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Re: A true shocker

Even my kids now have zombie accounts. I have at least 2 myself, can't remember dates! It's easier to generate a new account than faff about, especially when you don't really want one in the first place.

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Re: A true shocker

>Even my kids now have zombie accounts

Kinda makes you wonder how mean "real" accounts actually exist.

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Trollface

Re: A true shocker

Bonus points if you can get one that doesn't actually exist - not all systems check whether the 29th of February actually happened in a particular year.

Much fun to be had when a system that does check actually ends up using the data. This probably explains why it's not usually possible to do.

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Gav
Holmes

Re: A true shocker

Always, always use a false date of birth. Too many other companies still use your DoB as some kind of proof of identity, so you should treat it as sensitive information. Any website that has no good reason for knowing my DoB, other than "proving" I'm over a certain age, gets a made up date.

One side effect of this is now that Facebook sends begging messages around your "friends" telling them to come wish you happy birthday. On the wrong date. Frankly, any well wishes that has to be prompted by an automated third party are of no value. And delivering them on the wrong day just confirms that.

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Re: A true shocker

Well, as far as inflating their user numbers goes, it was revealed long ago how many of FB's "users" are "zombie" accounts, inactive accounts, or fake accounts (people's dogs, cats, whatever).

So, yeah, you've still got pretty much a win-win, especially as far as bleeding their resources.

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Anonymous Coward

The "13 years" is a total red herring

I actually get quite tired of the tacit acceptance of that 13 years age limit for the purpose of mass publication of personal details.

As someone comfortable with privacy laws I understand why self determination has been made possible at such a young age: that was so kids could decide to go to a doctor without disclosure risk - that limit was to allow them to release information to a restricted audience for controlled use, and so ensure that there would be no barriers for them to seek medical help.

However, I would like ANY politician to explain to me how it is possible that a child below the legal age to formally engage in a legal contact is nevertheless able to give permission for something that even ADULTS can't get right: the mass distribution of every intimate scrap of knowledge about their life, their preferences and the mistakes they inevitably make. Where does that leave my obligation as a parent to protect them from harm? Or will that take more victims of online bullying before someone wakes up to that fanatically exploited "little oversight"?

Our kids really do get exploited, and this is not helping - instead, it's taken as gospel that US COPPA is somehow sane (and yes, I know I'm moving 180° different from people who try to make that age limit even earlier - I look at this from a perspective of publicity competence which even adults can't get right).

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Of course kids lie

If they can't sign up before 13 they become a social outcast. The inflection point is when kids go from primary to secondary school. Unless you are going from a Prep school this tends to be age 11.

Facebook needs a protected mode for 9-13 year olds, so that they can join but have a tighter limit on what they can be shown. Just banning them is asking for problems.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Of course kids lie

Facebook needs a protected mode for 9-13 year olds

The issue is Facebook are a US company and under US law they are not allowed to hold data on anyone under 13 ... hence there restriction and possibly the reason why they don't go out of their way to enforce it.

As for trying to stop under 13's joining ... at a parents info evening at my son's secondary school a year or so ago they rolled out the local police's "CEOPS" representative who basically said there's no point in trying to stop children joining so assume they have. It sort of amused me to think that in the "online protection" session we were being told "no point in trying to enforce the rules as kids will ignore them", and in the "sex and relationships" session parents would be told "no point in trying to enforce the law as kids will have sex before the legal age of consent" whereas in the "safety and violence" parents would be told "tell your kids that if they carry a knife then they'll go to jail - thats the law"

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FAIL

Re: Of course kids lie

And you don't think 8 year olds are going to lie to get a protected mode account??? It's not the actual number that's the problem, it's the concept that anyone under the number will lie about their age.

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Re: Of course kids lie

That's not quite true (about COPPA), it does have some kind of provision for parents to authorize collection of information on younger kids, but the rules are evidently too onerous for most companies to deal with. I think it requires physical signed forms or something of the sort.

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Anonymous Coward

Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

Please do it, I've been "campaigning" to get people to sign the "anti" anti-porn filter e-petition on the UK gov site but only 30k so far, most brits I've spoke to doesn't seem to care one way or another.

So please, since you know you want to do it anyway, block social networks, and block news sites too by default and start suing and putting more kids posting rubbish on twitter behind bars while you're at.

Maybe then some more people will take notice, or maybe not and you conservatives can complete your Orwellian plan and start a dictatorship, in which case congrats and I'll say goodbye to my British citizenship.

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Big Brother

Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

Yeah, because in 1984 that is how it all started, the Oceanian government limiting people's access to hardcore porn, it all went downhill from there.

Not to be flippant, but I hardly think access to streaming grumble flicks is an inalienable 'Right of Man'.

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Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

Its not the right to access streaming such content that should be at issue, its the right to personal freedom, freedom to make choices for yourself and also the freedom to accept responsibility for the choices you made.

Just because something is available, doesnt mean it becomes mandatory to watch it, doesnt also mean others should make the choices for you, if they did, id start demanding they stop showing religious programs on TV.

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FAIL

Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

That argument is not only cliched, it's patently untrue...unless you think child porn should be legal and it should be 'up to the individual' to decide if they want to look at it? And aren't we forgetting that adult material isn't being blocked you are just being made to opt in to it, as most mobile data contracts already ask you to do for example...not exactly Big Brother.

And the fact of the matter is if you don't want it on record that you 'opted in' you will most likely use something like Tor anyway, it's not like ISPs can't already see what you're looking at.

I appreciate my first comment as rather flippant, I just think the whole '1984 Big Brother' hysteria is brought out far too often on things that aren't really anything of the like.

Downvote away pornosseurs.

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Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

Again, thats the problem, almost the entire majority of the country do not go looking for things like that, and as such do not require a block to not look at something theyre not looking for.

It has nothing to do with thinking anything that is illegal should be legal, claiming its all about child material is the weakest and most feeble argument thrown about by screaming hystericals.

Driving over the speed limit is illegal, taking illegal drugs is illegal, but neither of those require someone appointed by the government to spend all day with me checking i dont do either of those things.

Either way, implementing filters only makes people complacent, when really education and taking responsibility for your or your childrens activities would be far better as those determined to access illegal things will always do so whilst the rest of us suffer snooping on our non-porn, non-illegal web usage.

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Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

Yeah, because in 1984 that is how it all started, the Oceanian government limiting people's access to hardcore porn, it all went downhill from there.

In 1984 Porn was only banned for Party members. There was a whole department in the Ministry of Truth producing porn for the Prols.

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WTF?

Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

Bit of a silly comparison you're making when the facts of the argument are that no-one is stopping you looking at porn, you just have to opt in, which it's very easy to do. Vast majority of mobile networks already make you do this for mobile data contracts, are the people responsible for all this faux outrage forgetting that?

The whole 'Big Brother is watching youuuu!!!1' nonsense is ridiculous, they're just putting a sensible default on the account, same as if I want to give someone access to one of my production boxes I'm not going to give them full access 'coz like they should like totally be allowed to like have all the freedom like mannnn, fuck the system'.

I will say it again because the whole backlash seems to be labouring under this misconception.

THEY ARE NOT STOPPING YOU FROM LOOKING AT PORN.

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Childcatcher

Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.(@ murph)

"unless you think child porn should be legal and it should be 'up to the individual' to decide if they want to look at it? "

Watch out! Your straw dog is creating a fire storm! and:

"if you don't want it on record that you 'opted in' ..."

I don't give a shit about being on record for having 'opted out' of the filtering scheme, or as you hinted, 'opting in' to porn. But I have an issue with giving governments another powerful tool for controlling/misinforming the masses. And a tool that would be managed by a committee, to boot.

Now, give me a filtering system with a parental control that would allow adults(e.g. as identified by an account/pass) to access whatever they want, while the kids would surf a sanitized version of the Internet. See? No privacy invasion, no kids watching porn*, everyone is happy!.

Note*: Except for the ones able to hack through these filters as if they were made of very thin paper, i.e. most of them, as the knowledge of these hacks travels really fast.

Do you want to prevent your kids from seeing nasty things in the Net? Follow these easy instructions:

1:- limit their access to Internet so they can access it only at times when there is some adult at home.

2:- Don't put an Internet connected computer in their room. Put it in the living room, or somewhere where adults can take a peek at what the youn' ones are doing.

3:- Learn about security and teach your children about it, and explain openly the issues they may find when online.

4:-...

5:- Profit!

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Black Helicopters

@murph

"THEY ARE NOT STOPPING YOU FROM LOOKING AT PORN."

Yet.

Once the infrastructure is in place, which is the first hurdle to take, then it will become a lot easier to add extra contents to the filter without anyone knowing. Or worse: redirects.

You know; how people in Europe get Google results on how to book a vacation whenever they're searching for something Eastern, and the people in the US getting results on Islamitic extremists and the likes. It's not full censorship but also not that kosher either.

Isn't it a bit awkward that there seems to be no transparency as to which sites get blocked? As far as I know you can't request a list of currently blocked contents.

So exactly what's stopping them from expanding without anyone realizing it?

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Childcatcher

@murph Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

The point which you seem to be missing is that, as with many such things, the Government is getting people to accept the idea that censorship on the internet is acceptable by starting with something that almost nobody is going to disagree with.

Once that's accepted then, like the "Extreme Pornography" legislation, they can look at expanding it to other "unacceptable content" eg something that appears to look like rape, since, well, rape is equally unacceptable isn't it?

And slowly the line moves and more and more "unacceptable content" gets blocked as the Government decides for you what is os isn't acceptable for you to see...

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Thumb Up

@ Graham Marsden (was Re: @murph Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.)

Totally agreed, and in the same vein I want to call fellow commentard's attention upon the fact that this scheme would make political censorship extremely easy without even resorting to an unaccountable/corrupt control committee. If you want to censor some blog, so they can't share some damning data with the general public, all you need to do is to post now and then comments with nasty links and redacted with a lot of sex/hatespeech/terrorism related language. The automatic filter would do the rest.

Thank you, Government, but no, thank you! I prefer to choose my own blinders! ;^)

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Black Helicopters

Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

I am down-voting not because I view pron, but because the government already have a PROVEN history of asking to block something, and then expanding that permission to ban lots of other things as well.

Laws to block child porn already exist and have been used to block PIRATE and tv/video streaming websites, even where those pirate sites already have a "No childporn" and in some instances "no porn" policy.

There are also some very interesting situations where a "paper" (Hardback) book of photos containing naked children has been classified as "art", but the electronic version of the SAME BOOK is classed as "child porn".

And for those of you driving around with that amusing cartoon of two JellyBabies making out, please note that under the existing child porn laws, an image doesnt need to be of a REAL CHILD, so technically you are in possession of child porn.

I look forwards to seeing a list of legitimate websites that get blocked by this crap idea, except they will probably refuse to release the data and send out a black helic...............

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Thumb Down

Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

"THEY ARE NOT STOPPING YOU FROM LOOKING AT PORN."

BUT THEY WANT ME TO SIGN A REGISTER LIKE A FUCKING SEX OFFENDER.

FOR ENGAGING IN NORMAL ADULT BEHAVIOUR.

THAT IS THE ISSUE, GET IT THROUGH YOUR SKULL.

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Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

"Not to be flippant, but I hardly think access to streaming grumble flicks is an inalienable 'Right of Man'."

Then make them illegal. Banning things that are not actually illegal is a very dubious return to the days of the Lord Chancellor and censorship at a whim.

And, of course, 1984 did have the "anti-sex league", since you mention it.

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h3
Bronze badge

Re: Go ahead please... block social networks by default as well.

I have not bothered removing the filter from my phone but I have had to use opera mini to find stuff that is completely benign.

All it is going to mean is more malware porn toolbars. (That work in a similar way to bolt or opera mini).

Talktalk is what they want everyone to copy which is the worst ISP in the country.

Same problems that China has due the same technology.

(I thought Cameron already tried this once and then decided people didn't actually want it).

If you really want to look at porn on the internet as a young man you will do what you can to find and succeed. You never find it by accident. (Excluding Goatse / Lemonparty / Tubgirl type things).

The Sociology room at my school had soft porn on the walls. (Stuff about objectification of women).

It shouldn't be done also for the same reason DNS shouldn't display ad's if you type in the wrong url.

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Re: @murph

http://zine.openrightsgroup.org/features/2013/porn-blocking

(Written by someone who was abused as a child which should carry some weight. Romantic Comedies are worse than porn according to her).

Personally I think overly revealing clothes for young children is a far worse thing.

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Control group

So what needs to happen now if for these "victims" (sheesh!) of being "exposed" to over-aged advertising to be compared with children who haven't seen stuff they weren't supposed to (if there are as many as 24 in the whole country who fall into the category). Then we will be in a position to gauge what "damage" has occurred. However, if it turns out that these children are indistinguishable from the unsullied, there is an obvious question about the effect of adult material on the under-aged.

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Childcatcher

Britain's best chance

of dealing with any issue concerning the web:

Switch it off.

Job's done. Then this diabolical pit of smut can no longer corrupt our children, which are then, at long last, free again to sweep chimneys or do their duty as choir-boys (shush, you mustn't tell, telling would be a sin . . .). It's all those bloody immigrants who wrecked the empire with their filth and made our little darlings lie.

What kind of name is "Zuckerberg" anyway? Foreign, no doubt.

There will always be another NIMBY with yet another issue.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Britain's best chance ..

"What kind of name is "Zuckerberg" anyway? Foreign, no doubt."

It's lunchtime and you now owe me a keyboard sir!!!!!!!!!!

Love the irony (which just HAS to be intentional...) "What kind of name is "Zuckerberg" anyway? Foreign, no doubt."

posted by "Andreas Koch"

Absolute class!

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Happy

@ Jean Le PHARMACIEN - Re: Britain's best chance ..

Merci beaucoup, Monsieur.

I aim to entertain. ;-)

Sorry about the keyboard though; have you tried switching it off and back on again?

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"They were presented with ads for age-restricted products including for gambling, alcohol, slimming aids and overtly sexual dating services – all categories that are subject to strict rules designed to prevent them from being directly targeted at children and young people."

Where are these mythical Ads? All I ever get see are Ads for Ford Trucks, T-Shirt & Poster Sites checking now, there's an Ad for Rent a Sumo (OH DEAR SKY FAIRY WHY!?!), and the ever Omani-present Samsung Ads...

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re. ads

If I want to see ads for alcohol, I just walk down three particular aisles of my local supermarket. It's all there in glorious HD 3-D technicolour, something to suit every taste and preference, and you can touch the products and feel the weight and stroke them if you want to.

I still haven't found the aisles for overtly sexual services. I'll keep looking.

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Re: re. ads

I seem to see placeholders. Good to see the adblocker works.

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Where are these mythical Ads? All I ever get see are Ads for Ford Trucks, T-Shirt & Poster Sites checking now, there's an Ad for Rent a Sumo (OH DEAR SKY FAIRY WHY!?!), and the ever Omani-present Samsung Ads...

You do realise I assume that there is a lot of tracking going on even when you're not using facebook? (you didn't think that the various facebook buttons were there on numerous websites for our good did you?) Chances are you're being shown these adverts because Facebook thinks that these are the most likely to be clicked on rather than anything to do with suitability.

Although I've never seen anything to do with rent a sumo. WTF have you been looking at online??? :)

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Happy

(@ Michael Habel)

"Where are these mythical Ads? All I ever get see are Ads for Ford Trucks..."

That could be that you've never used a 'certain language' or done 'certain searches' in FB. Try adding the terms 'bestiality', 'midget porn', or try visiting 'hamstersandducttape.net' while logged in, and you'll get rid of those filthy Ford commercials!

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WTF?

Re: (@ Michael Habel)

But, I don't like 'bestiality', 'midget porn', and WTF is 'hamstersandducttape.net NO I RATHER LIVE IN BLISSFUL IGNORANCE!

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds like what the ASA is saying is that more people need to install AdBlock. That would fix this particular issue, and make the ASA's life easier as well. What's not to like?

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Astonishing

The second part of their research will no doubt discover - incredibly - that some younger teenagers falsely state they are 18 in order to look at pornography. This will result in breathless condemnation of ISPs for corrupting our nations youth.

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Facepalm

In other news ...

A bear goes into the woods with a newspaper and says "I may be some time"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In other news ...

A talking bear... now that was a surprise.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In other news ...

Talking, but apparently a slow reader . . .

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Re: In other news ...

Surprise is that they still deliver newspapers that far out in the boonies.

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FAIL

I wonder how many well paid analysts and researchers were involved in this revelation.

When I was 13, I have the sneaky suspicion that kids the same age as me were lying to shopkeepers in order to buy booze...

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Shopkeepers?

I got served in the pub at 13 (I was 6 feet tall at that age and my mate even taller). Same pub and a lot of pints later they actually got around to asking for some ID on my 18th birthday, so I popped home and got it. The guy's face was priceless when he uttered "you're joking....today?". Lied about my age to start working a year earlier too and that meant I got into the company's management program at 17 which wasn't supposed to happen.

My kids on the other hand I don't think ever managed to buy alcohol underage. My daughter still gets challenged at 21.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shopkeepers?

I got challenged about a year ago.. I'm now 31.. at the time I was sporting a 3-4 day beard (just like I am now.. I like my face stubbly)... I believe the gent who queried my age had no problem believing i wasn't 18, but it was challenge 25 you see.. and I could just about consievably be a very mature looking 25 year old...

Mission.Creep

I wonder if this ass-hattery will follow me around for life.. if in a few years we will be up to challenge 30 and I'll still be required to get my ID out to buy cider :)

anon just because I'm giving out personally identifiable details :)

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IAVO

The salesman at Maplin asked for proof of age when I bought some glue. He is not blind or clueless. He has to ask _everyone_ because that is what his employer requires.

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Happy

Re: Shopkeepers?

Make the most of it; the sad time comes when you realise that no-one's going to ask you again, other than as a joke.

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Re: IAVO

Now I wanna sniff some glue

Now I wanna have somethin' to do

All the kids wanna sniff some glue

All the kids want Santa Day

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