A Belfast court ordered Facebook to disclose any records it has about Facebook users under the age of 13 in both Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. 13 years old is Facebook’s official age entry for new members, though many young users simply circumvent the rules by lying about their age.
The order comes after an 11-year-old girl in the UK opened four Facebook accounts and posted sexually suggestive photos, interacting with men online and receiving explicit photos from them via text message. The girl’s father filed a suit that alleged Facebook’s registration makes it too easy for underage users to get online, and that as a result she was exposed to potentially dangerous situations. The lawyers in the case want Facebook to hand over its records regarding underage users, though the site says they don’t retain that data for more than six months. Whether the site has the data or not, the judge in the case has ordered Facebook to turn over its records.
There’s no doubt that preventing underage children from joining Facebook is difficult. However, Facebook has a system to remove them. If you want to report an underage Facebook user, you can visit the site’s Report an Underage Child page.