Facebook and Instagram locking underaged users' accounts


Facebook and Instagram will be more stringent in ensuring that children under 13 are not signed up for the social media accounts. — AFP

Facebook and Instagram will be more stringent in ensuring that children under 13 are not signed up for the social media accounts. — AFP

Facebook is cracking down on accounts belonging to users under the age of 13.

An account that is reported for any offense will be scrutinised – and if its moderators, at their own discretion, believe that the account belongs to someone under the age limit, it will be locked down.

Previously, Facebook only investigated accounts that were flagged as belonging to an underaged person.

"We do not allow people under 13 to have a Facebook account. If someone is reported to us as being under 13, the reviewer will look at the content on their profile (text and photos) to try to ascertain their age.

"If they believe the person is under 13, the account will be put on a hold and the person will not be able to use Facebook until they provide proof of their age,” said Facebook global policy management vice president Monika Bickert in a post.

According to TechCrunch, the change is in response to an undercover documentary report by the UK's Channel 4 and Firecrest Films in which a journalist enlisted as a Facebook content reviewer at a third-party firm in Dublin, Ireland. The report states that a reviewer at the firm claimed that they were instructed to ignore users who were underaged.

"We have to have an admission that the person is underage. If not, we just like pretend that we are blind and that we don’t know what underage looks like," the article quoted the reviewer as saying.

TechCrunch adds that it believes Facebook will not actively hunt for underage users, but instead will stop ignoring those it comes across.

"We take these mistakes incredibly seriously and are grateful to the journalists who brought them to our attention. We have been investigating exactly what happened so we can prevent these issues from happening again.

"For example, we immediately required all trainers in Dublin to do a re-training session – and are preparing to do the same globally. We also reviewed the policy questions and enforcement actions that the reporter raised and fixed the mistakes we found," added Bickert. 

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