Facebook, like many companies, officially requires its users to be at least 13-years-old to use the platform. That hasn’t stopped many kids from using the service or parents from creating accounts for their children, though. Officially speaking, Facebook has a guidance for its reviewers to pause accounts belonging to minors, but it appears to have been only mildly enforced. That is changing.
In a post today, Facebook said that it is working to update its guidance for reviewers, advising them to target accounts that belong to minors. The reviewers may be alerted to the existence of a minor’s profile via a user report…and the report doesn’t have to be about the user’s age.
Facebook reviewers are now told to put an account on hold if they “have a strong indication” that the user is too young for an account. That is a new order, says Facebook, which reports that it is updating its guidance for reviewers to reflect this stronger position.
Accounts put on hold will remain that way until the user is 13-years-old or until they provide proof of their age. Once the user is old enough to officially have a Facebook account, their existing profile will be unlocked. The change is in response to a report from the UK’s Channel 4, which found during an investigative report that Facebook and Instagram often ignored the age requirement.
A reporter who went undercover as a Facebook content reviewer was advised during their time in the role that only an admission of being underage is enough to put an account on hold. The journalist was told that content reviewers look the other way and ignore obviously underage accounts if there’s no admission of age.