How is Facebook to know who is a parent?

Facebook and other social media websites should require parents to confirm that their children are over the age of 13 before they are allowed to use the websites.

Matt Hancock, the Culture Secretary, criticised social media websites for only requiring children to tick a box to confirm that they are over the age of 13.

He said that social media means it is “one of the hardest times to be a parent”, with children using new technology that “we couldn’t have dreamed of” a generation ago.

So, how will it be done? Other than just ticking a box that is. Anyone going to have to start providing birth certificates or something?

Sigh. Either the system becomes horribly and expensively intrusive by requiring real world documentation. Or it’s just box ticking.

34 comments on “How is Facebook to know who is a parent?

  1. Shouldn’t the question – given the recent hoo-ha – be, how does Farcebook NOT know who your parents are…?

  2. I assumed that 13 year-olds stopped using Facebook about the same time their parents started using it.

  3. “…new technology that “we couldn’t have dreamed of” a generation ago.”

    The ability to post pictures of your new kitten so that 579 people you claim are your friends can see it?

    True. I never dreamed a generation ago that this is what technology would enable us to do.

  4. One option would be to require an account registered in the name of a supposed parent to have to confirm the relationship and the age. That means it now takes a bit more effort to register the account – have to create a fake profile for the parent first, and FB could require eg that the parental account has been active for a certain time before a child account can be confirmed from it. As Tim says, not a major inconvenience to someone truly committed unless quite privacy-invading background checks are required. But at least more of a token effort than ticking a box.

  5. This is why we need a National ID Card. Just insert your card into the handy reader and Facebook (and Twitter, etc.) will immediately know whether you’re old enough to use the service.

    If that works well, the system can be expanded across the rest of the internet, so that nobody can make beastly comments behind a pseudonym. The same ID card can also be used to check yourself into the local police station for your thoughtcrimes.

    It works for China, after all.

  6. They could do a multiple choice question:

    “In the evening, do you prefer to
    a. Go out dancing all night at a club with the help of some tabs, or
    b. Have a well deserved glass of Chardonnay before falling asleep in front of the TV?”

    It won’t take long to short the sheep from the goats.

  7. Pjh +1.

    Will be fascinating when fb responds “our data indicate that x is not your father”.

  8. You could ask general knowledge no child would know:

    Devil Woman is a song by
    1. Cheap Trick,
    2. ELO or
    3. Fleetwood Mac

    No one under 50 would have a chance.

  9. Surreptitious Evil – “Kids can use Google”

    OK then. Insist that anyone using Facebook has to listen to the sound track to Guardians of the Galaxy Parts I and II. Make it autoplay as soon as anyone looks at their homepage.

    1. “Hooked on a Feeling” Blue Swede 2:52
    2. “Go All the Way” Raspberries 3:21
    3. “Spirit in the Sky” Norman Greenbaum 4:02
    4. “Moonage Daydream” David Bowie 4:41
    5. “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” Elvin Bishop 4:35
    6. “I’m Not in Love” 10cc 6:03
    7. “I Want You Back” The Jackson 5 2:58
    8. “Come and Get Your Love” Redbone 3:26
    9. “Cherry Bomb” The Runaways 2:17
    10. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” Rupert Holmes 3:47
    11. “O-o-h Child” Five Stairsteps 3:13
    12. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

    I suspect few teenagers could listen to Sweet’s Fox on the Run for forty minutes.

  10. I think you’ll find Devil Woman is a song by Sir Cliff whereas Evil Woman is a song by ELO.

  11. DocBud – “I think you’ll find Devil Woman is a song by Sir Cliff whereas Evil Woman is a song by ELO.”

    As a penalty for falling for that obvious trap, I think you need to go and listen to the Pina Colada song. Or perhaps the Ketchup Song would be a worse punishment.

    But I think you have proved my point. No teenager would know that and probably couldn’t work it out even with google.

  12. Another option would be to legislate for a one-off tax hit on Faecebook equivalent to its current market cap and predicted worldwide earnings for the next 5 years. Alphabet too, while we’re at it.

    When I were a nipper, people who listened at keyholes and spied on you from the bushes were called Peeping Toms. Now they’re called Mark and Eric and Sergey and Brin.

  13. Sell FB shares, they’re done. A business that makes it harder for its new customers to get on board isn’t going to last that long. The kids will find some other social media place to hang out, one that doesn’t have politicians crawling all over it.

  14. Jim,

    account holders on Facebook aren’t customers – they’re the product Facebook sells

  15. He said that social media means it is “one of the hardest times to be a parent”

    I expect the old days when one in five children didn’t make their fifth birthday, and feeding those that did was a daily concern, were probably a little harder for parents.

    Still, that would require a morsel of awareness, so tough for modern humans.

  16. “account holders on Facebook aren’t customers – they’re the product Facebook sells”

    Yes they are, they’re consuming a product in return for their data. They may not realise it, but they’re paying for the service. And regardless, if FB make money out of the ‘users’ pissing them off by making it harder to sign up for the service is hardly going to mean there’ll be lots of users to exploit will it?

  17. Actually addressing the issue, if one substitutes “responsible adult” for the more nebulous “parent” the answer’s obvious. Do what a lot of other net services do & require validation by credit card. (Didn’t Skype used to do this, way back when?). The advantage to FB is they harvest card info + ownership of sprog(s). Valuable data.
    But “He said that social media means it is “one of the hardest times to be a parent”, with children using new technology that “we couldn’t have dreamed of” a generation ago. ”
    No it isn’t. It’s lazy, fucking irresponsible parenting. They wouldn’t let their children play in the fast lane of the autoroute. Why do they let them loose unsupervised on the internet? There’d be a very simple software solution if anyone was interested in taking it up. A firewall around what kids could access. But that would take some actual parental responsibility, wouldn’t it?

  18. Jim is correct.

    By all means Zuckers bring in this new authoritarian horseshit asap.

    It will advance your personal Bankruptcy Day at flank speed. You bug-eyed SOS.

  19. Every generation has its cultural monster.

    Mine was rock & roll. To my teachers utter shock, I turned out okay.

  20. Gamecock – “To my teachers utter shock, I turned out okay.”

    Well in the rough and tumble tradition of this blog (which is to say, don’t take this personally) can we have a second opinion?

    You got the former Mrs Gamecock’s e-mail handy for instance?

  21. Parents who care will have restricted their child’s access, those who don’t care won’t be bothered whether or not their child gets round the rules.

    This is just “doing something” to get Mumsnet and various other busybody groups off their backs.

  22. “You got the former Mrs Gamecock’s e-mail handy for instance?”

    You wish to beat me with the jaw of an ass?

  23. Why the fuck do we even have a “Minister for Culture”? I’m not saying that everyone who works for DCMS should be lined up in a ditch and shot. But I’m not rejecting it out of hand.

  24. “Surreptitious Evil
    May 21, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Kids can use Google ”

    From my experience on gaming forums (where there are a lot of under-30 posters) – no they can not. A lot of these kids (and, frankly, most adults) couldn’t find porn on the internet with a credit card in hand.

    From my personal experience, there’s a narrow age range from between early 40’s and mid 50’s where a significant fraction of that group has any real computer literacy.

  25. “Simon Tugmutton
    May 21, 2018 at 9:32 am

    . . .

    When I were a nipper, people who listened at keyholes and spied on you from the bushes were called Peeping Toms. Now they’re called Mark and Eric and Sergey and Brin.”

    Funny, nowadays I thought they were called Nakasone, Haspel, Fleming, and Javid.

  26. “From my experience on gaming forums (where there are a lot of under-30 posters) – no they can not. A lot of these kids (and, frankly, most adults) couldn’t find porn on the internet with a credit card in hand.

    From my personal experience, there’s a narrow age range from between early 40’s and mid 50’s where a significant fraction of that group has any real computer literacy.”

    Its funny you should say that, because I fall slap bang into your computer literacy sweet spot, and I too have noticed that I speak to people who want to find something on the net, and say they can’t find it, and sometimes a single search is all I need to bring it up. Young people seem to have very little savvy about using the net, despite having grown up with it from birth.

    I think smart phones have something to do with it, I’m sure Google on them and tablets is less efficient somehow than on a laptop or desk top. Plus because smart phone are more ‘user friendly’ the user has far less idea how the whole OS works than on a desktop.

  27. Bloke I used to know said that his sub-generation and mine (D.O.B. roughly 1964 – 1974) was the first and last computer literate cohort. Before that computers were PDP-11s and IBM 370s and needed big rooms with acolytes; after that they were Macs and PCs which did a lot of the hard stuff for you. But we were the ones who got Commodore 64s and BBC Micros and Spectrums and (if you were flush) Apple IIs. They just sat there doing nuffin until you did something to make them go. Even the arty-farty types in my year who went off to do Greats or Anthropology or whatever knew enough BASIC to do non-trivial things.

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