back to article Social networks must police kids' profiles, says EC

Social network sites must ensure that children's profiles are visible only to the child's friends and cannot be found on a search engine, the European Commission has said. The Commission adopted its stance after a survey (13-page/198KB PDF) found that an increasing number of children were flouting social network age limits to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    if "an increasing number of children are flouting social network age limits to set up their accounts" then they are probably falsifying their age, so how are "Social Networks" supposed to identify and regulate those accounts?

    Parents of these children should be the ones to take responsibility for their child's actions - but I suppose that's too much to ask nowadays.

    1. Steve Brooks


      We just treat all adults like children, problem solved, we're 60% of the way there in AU now as it is. But I have a novel solution, if we actually "allowed" children to have profiles on social networking sites suprevised by responsible people, ie: parents, who could co-sign the application, then the blighters wouldn't need to lie about their age and you would have more control over them. Will the athoritaaas never learn, think of the children!

    2. Brezin Bardout

      Parental responsibility

      'Parents of these children should be the ones to take responsibility for their child's actions'

      Of course they should, nobody is saying otherwise. The problem isn't with responsible parents though, its with the irresponsible ones. That's why they're suggesting sites like these also need to take some responsibility. Or do you think we shouldn't bother at all with children with idiot parents and just let them get on with doing whatever they want? Because, yeah, I'm sure that'll work out well in the long run.

      All the commission are suggesting is that these networks should enforce their own rules a bit better.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    "Won't Somebody Think of the Children?"

    Please allow for the fact that I'm an old cynic, but I suspect that this is another of those "Won't Somebody Think of the Children?" moments.

    We had the USA proposing a single on line identifier for all financial transactions in the past few days. I reckon that this report will transform itself into a mandatory EU government run on-line identifier for all web activities, every single one of them. Because after all, the EU cares for your very soul, and cares for your children even more than you do. Not.

    Anybody heard of parental responsibility? No, it isn't the State's responsibility.

  3. Nigel Brown

    T I T L E

    How about ensuring that the little sods don't abuse the age limits in the first place? Facebook et al seem pretty hot at removing pictures with a hint of tit of them, surely its not too hard to suss out which profiles only have pictures of kids? Failing that a quick look at the language syntax would be a dead giveaway.

    I wont bother mentioning that ultimately its down to the parents to ensure that little Tyson or Chelsea abide by the T & Cs of these sites...............................

    Mine's the one with Victor Meldrew on the name tag.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Stupidity has no end...

    It says that requirements on registration for checking ages is "not affective". What do they expect them to do? Ask for scans of your driving license, passport and birth certificate?

    Most of the "children" on these sites just lie about their age anyway and there is only one way to stop it. That is through education. The same aswell goes with the privacy thing. The children should be educated about the dangers of the internet and be under supervision of their parents.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Bureaucrats don't like education, they like red tape, laws, and, regulation. An educated person can see when red tape is just a power trip for some over paid honcho in a cushy office, also an educated person can look after themselves with the need for Bureaucrats.

  5. Rab Sssss


    The little bastards off for lying about their age and being stupid enough to be cought...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      first hurdle

      "caught", not "cought".

      Sorry, you have failed the basic spelling bee and must now give up your internets.

  6. Ole Juul Silver badge

    So how does this work?

    The age of consent is 16 in these parts. In any relationship between a child and an adult it is the adult who is responsible. So, when Facebook entices some little girl to put her personal information into their database are they not responsible in some way? I note that in other situations involving danger to children (perceived or otherwise), one is expected to refrain from creating that situation.

    1. Oninoshiko

      Ugh. You just made be defend farcebook. I think I need a shower.

      Facebook is not "entices some little girl to put her personal information into their database," as a point of fact, Facebook explicitly prohibits unsupervised children. Because of this fact, each time a child uses Facebook (without parental consent), they are in violation of The Computer Misuse Act.

      You say "little girl" I say "young crim."

      1. Ole Juul Silver badge

        You didn't answer my question.

        I am questioning the application of the law in this matter. I agree that it is a complex matter, but to me the laws seem to be applied differently in various situations. Is Face book above the law, or is this some special case?

        There is such a thing as "age of consent". In England it is 16, but it varies by country. There is also the "age of majority" which is typically 18. Facebook explicitly prohibiting unsupervised children does not change that. I certainly hope that no one would argue that prohibiting children would make it less enticing to them. The numbers would seem to speak for themselves in that case. Is Facebook then not complicit?

    2. Tom 13

      And in the US it is situationally dependent with

      the two primary demarcations being 18 and 21 (at least I think Louisiana has harmonized their laws and 12 and 14 are no longer special subsets within their jurisdiction).

      Anyone who thinks a corporation can keep up with all the permutations of laws for all of the districts in the world crossed with all of the various techniques available to defeat policing is smoking shit that isn't even legal in The Netherlands.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    If we really cared for the children...

    ...we would stop -

    - stop using the internet as a childminder;

    - stop expecting virus-writers and profit-oriented businesses to care;

    - stop trying to place limits and boundaries on adults (think of the example we are setting to the youth of today, that even as an adult it is necessary to be mollycoddled);

    - stop allowing children access to the internet until they are mentally and emotionally ready to find out exactly what is on the internet, free and without any proof of age requirement.


    Paris knows EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

  8. John Lilburne Silver badge

    Kids are naive, teens are dumb, adults are dumber, facebook is the dumbest

  9. Graham Marsden

    "Just over half of the 11-12 year olds...

    "...rising to over three quarters of the 15-16 year olds know how to change the privacy settings on their profile."

    So, more children than Adults know how to do this, then...

  10. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Age not effective

    What we need is a governemnt issued ID to be used for all online activities then Facebook etal could check your age - simple, I don't know why we didn't think of it before.

    1. Tom 13

      I HOPE you forgot

      the sarcasm tag.

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