Just as Facebook is reportedly considering opening up the site to kids under 13, a passel of advocacy groups has sent a letter to the company urging it not to target ads at that age group.
About a dozen groups, including the Consumers Union, The Center for Science in the Public Interest and Children Now, sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arguing that children have a “difficult time differentiating between advertising and other media content, especially in the digital context.” The letter also urges that any “Likes” that children proclaim “not then be used to target that child with ads, nor should it be used to conduct social media marketing, in order to convince the child’s friends to also interact with the product or company.”
Facebook reps could not be reached for comment. However, a rep emailed The New York Times the following statement:
“Enforcing age restrictions on the Internet is a difficult issue, especially when many reports have shown parents want their children to access online content and services. We welcome today’s recommendations by consumer, privacy, health and child groups as we continue our dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policy makers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment.”
The opposition over possibly targeting preteens for advertising comes after reports emerged earlier this month that the company is considering letting kids under 13 set up accounts with parental supervision. Though Facebook blocks preteens from setting up accounts, a 2011 Consumer Reports survey found 7.5 million Facebook users were under 13.