The father of a young girl in Northern Ireland is suing Facebook for allegedly allowing his 11-year-old daughter to join the site, where he claims she was targeted by sexual predators.
The girl allegedly created multiple accounts, posted sexual pictures of herself and came into contact with adult men who also sent her sexually explicit pictures. Facebook eventually removed the girl’s accounts, but the father and his legal team have said that Facebook does not do enough in its account creation process to prevent underage users from joining.
“My own personal view is that Facebook isn’t suitable for under-18s, but the company isn’t even able to uphold its own policy of keeping under-13s out,” the man’s lawyer said. “An age check, like asking for a passport number, would be a simple measure for Facebook to implement.”
Facebook does officially require users to be 13 years old, though the age verification process is indeed easy to beat. The site encourages parents to “exercise discretion” when it comes to their children’s computer time and to educate them about Internet safety. However, it’s a pretty unrealistic expectation for parents to track their children’s online behavior 24/7 on Facebook, let alone on Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat and every other social media platform. We’ll see if this case leads to any real change being suggested.