Changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, have enabled Facebook to begin advertising to children younger than 13.
According to the Mashable article, "among the most important part of the changes is that no notice or parental consent will be required if a website uses children's data 'for the sole purpose of supporting the website or online service’s internal operations, such as contextual advertising, frequency capping, legal compliance, site analysis, and network communications.'"
That passage essentially allows Facebook to open the site to children under 13 and serve up advertising to this new demographic of users.
This is about the time that pit in my stomach started churning.
The big difference is that only contextual ads would be allowed, meaning the ads a child under 13 would see would be based solely on what's on a given page. Behavioral ads, or ads based on a user's Internet browsing habits, are forbidden.
I suppose this makes me feel a little better. But not by much.
As a personal choice, I will not allow my children to use social networks until I feel they have reached a level of intellectual and emotional development that deems them capable of responsible social media use. Until then, they will play and socialize with other children face to face under the supervision of responsible adults. Their sandboxes will not be virtual. Frankly, I find the idea of allowing children so young to use Facebook disturbing. But hey, that's just me.
What do you think of these changes to COPPA?