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How does Facebook comply with COPPA?

Houston, TX |

How does Facebook comply with COPPA? They obviously accept birthdays during the signup process. So if a potential user who is under the age of 13, inputs an age below the age of 13 the potential user will be denied access to sign up. But if that same user comes back (closes out of the tab/browser and returns back to facebook) with the same email and inputs a different birthday(older than 12) Facebook allows this user to have a profile. How is this not a violation of COPPA when Facebook was clearly aware of the user's first failure attempt to sign up due to age requirement?

Attorney Answers 5

Posted

Facebook is only awae of the user's first failure attempt if they have programmed their sign-up process to check for that situation. Further, IP's are often shared by family members who are both older and younger than 13. So I am not sure an IP check alone would work.

However, in your scenario, you say the user used the same email addy. Again, FB would need their sign-up program to check that.

While the arguement can be made FB should be doing more, I am not sure it is a winner. I suggest you go to FTC.gov and make a complain there.

This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.

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Posted

It is FB's policy not to subscribe members under the age of 13 (I believe). It is not their obligation to ensure that no one under age 13 sneaks in. COPPA speaks to those policies and procedures that ISPs are to adhere to when they offer content that would be directed at anyone under the age of 13.

Is it possible for a youngster under 13 to simply lie and create an account? Of course, there are probably 100s of 1000s of such accounts.

I am not certain based on your posting what exactly you are concerned about it? But you are welcome to clarify in the comments.

Best regards,
Frank
Natoli-Lapin, LLC
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Posted

You can be 99.999% percent sure that Facebook complies with COPPA. You do not identify your insterest in complaining.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

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1 comment

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

I agree. This is not amateurs you are talking about. It is the most successful and biggest social media site on the planet. They do their legal work. They comply by hiring attorneys that see that they comply and that work hard to get them out of trouble in the even of a failure to comply.

Posted

Facebook complies by refusing to allow persons who report that they are under the age of 13 to have accounts. Further, if Facebook finds out that someone under the age of 13 has wrongly opened an account by making false statements about his age, Facebook will discontinue the account. Facebook has no obligation to do more---it is entitled to assume that one someone represents his age, the representation is true. It would be technologically practicable for Facebook or any other web-site to independently verify the accuracy of the representations made by people as to their age. Further, multiple people often use the same IP address and, thus, it would make no sense to require Facebook to monitor the different ages asserted by different persons using the same IP address.

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Posted

Facebook assumes the first attempt was an error if the second attempt inputs different information. Facebook is not in the business of blocking people who commit innocent errors and Facebook is relying on people to tell the truth. That is all the law requires. Perhaps you should call your Congressman and propose changes in the law. For example, it might be made mandatory to show a verifiable identity document and have software that privately checks the identity document. I think that has more disadvantages than advantages for the public. If an 8 year old wants to register a Facebook account and has the technical ability to do so, whatever steps you would propose and Facebook would institute would be hacked in hours and the hack would be posted for all to read, probably hacked by an 8 year old. Parental supervision is the key, not forcing Facebook to become Big Brother. Here in the US we like freedom, not regulations and especially not ineffective regulations. The Internet and cell phones are so popular in large part because of the great freedom they allow.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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