Saturday, July 21, 2012

Brands Wary As Facebook Considers Allowing Members Under Age 13


Coca-Cola is one of the Facebook brands that will not participate in any advertising on Facebook that will target the under-13 demographic.
Since Facebook first started over a decade ago, it has become one of the fastest growing websites in the history of the Internet. Facebook has continually increased numbers by adding nearly 600,000 people per day in 2011. Now in 2012, Facebook is in discussions to allow children under the age of 13 to create an official account of their own.
While it is no secret that many children under the age of 13 are already on Facebook, Facebook’s new program would give children an official account of their own while adding parental supervision. Parents would have access to their child’s page with the authority to approve friend requests and activity going on their page.
Many are warning Facebook to be cautious. Allowing children under the age of 13 to join Facebook could uncover many of the children already there. This could cause Facebook to run into significant legal trouble because signup and security are designed only for individuals over 13.
In a recent AdAge article, Linda Goldstein, chair of the advertising, marketing and media division at law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, cautioned that complete regulation may be impossible and adding this demographic may be a nuisance Facebook doesn’t want. Goldstein also pointed out the demand for compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This act requires parental consent before collecting data from children under 13. With these two things in mind, Goldstein feels it might be something Facebook doesn’t want to get involved in.
But what does this mean for advertisers? Many companies are discussing pulling their advertising from any dimension of Facebook that would have the chance to target children under 13. Coca-Cola has already stated that they will not participate in any advertising on Facebook that will target this demographic. Facebook will be faced with many challenges to fill advertising spots by big brand names causing many people to wonder if it is even worth it.
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