The FTC wants to update the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, first written in 1998, in order to cover games, apps, ad networks and more. Facebook has raised concerns with the FTC that the amendment would pose a freedom of speech violation against teenagers, who would be limited in what they could like or share on Facebook.
“The Supreme Court has recognized on numerous occasions that teens are entitled to First Amendment protection,” Facebook wrote in a filing with the FTC. “A government regulation that restricts teens’ ability to engage in protected speech—as the proposed COPPA Rule would do—raises issues under the First Amendment.” Facebook is of the belief that a person’s ‘like’ on the social networking platform and websites incorporating the social plugin should be a protected form of free speech.
Facebook is only currently available to people who identify themselves as older than 13. However, Facebook has shown an interest in expanding the age range of its users to include people younger than that, and Facebook is also seeking permission from the FTC to advertise directly to children. They say that advertising in their hands is more trustworthy than advertising in an ad network, as they can more easily control the content.
Even if the government wants to shield children from advertising on the Internet, it’s clear that sites such as Facebook and Google don’t want that to be the case. What do you think about the ethics of children being targeted by online advertising? In what ways is that different than traditional print and television ads targeted at kids?
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