Google to launch accounts for children?; Facebook facing baby blackout
By Finfacts Team
Aug 20, 2014 - 2:16 AM

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On Tuesday, the 10th anniversary of Google going public it ended with a valuation of $397bn and it signalled that it's not yet ready to rest on its laurels with several media outlets reporting that it planned to allow children as young as 13 to open online accounts. Meanwhile, The  San Jose Mercury News, the daily newspaper of the city of San José - -  the biggest urban area in the Silicon Valley region -- has an AP story that an increasing number of parents are opting for a baby blackout on Facebook by consciously keeping their children's photos, names and entire identities off the Internet.

Children have for long been seen as a key target market for consumer products and services.

See this New York Times investigative report from 2013: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

The Wall Street Journal says that accounts on Google services such as Gmail and YouTube are not officially offered to children, though there is little to stop them from logging on anonymously or posing as adults to sign up for accounts.

"Now Google is trying to establish a new system that lets parents set up accounts for their kids, control how they use Google services and what information is collected about their offspring, according to a person familiar with the effort.

Earlier this year, Google was developing a child version of its online video site YouTube suited to tablet computers that would let parents control content, another person familiar with the company’s plans said.

Google and most other Internet companies tread carefully because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA. The [US] law imposes strict limits on how information about children under 13 is collected; it requires parents’ consent and tightly controls how that data can be used for advertising. (Companies are not liable if customers lie to them about user ages)."

The Mercury News story says: [A big reason parents are wary, even if they use social media sites themselves, is that the companies "have not been very transparent about the way they collect data about users," says Caroline Knorr, parenting editor at the nonprofit Common Sense Media, which studies children's use of technology. "Facebook's terms of service and privacy (policies) -- no one reads it, it's too obscure."

Some parents look back to their own childhoods, when they were able to make mistakes without evidence of those blunders living on --forever-- online.]

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