Facebook’s newest policy, allowing children as young as 13 to share posts with the global community, rather than just their friend networks, has the potential to invite the attention of identity thieves and hackers. What should you know about protecting under-age users?
The first age limits on Facebook only developed a few years after the site’s launch. At first, anyone of any age could join Facebook, though they needed to be in college to do so. Not until 2008 did Facebook institute the policy of restricting use to those older than 13, a policy that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has openly derided. Believing that anyone should have the freedom to use his social media platform, Zuckerberg noted in an interview with CNN that he believes Facebook can be a driving factor in the raising of children, including their education. Despite his objections, the site remains closed to those younger than teenagers.
Age limitations on Facebook can be overridden, however, so that younger children can create an account and connect with their friends and followers with parental permission. At the same time, these teens and children are cut off from the greater world, with restrictions on who can view their posts. Facebook’s recent update, however, allows teens as young as 13 to share with the world their posts and profiles. This opens teens to a world of digital danger, since a potential identity thief can track a teen’s public posts and discover more about their name, location, birthdate, birth place, and facial photographs. DigitalTrends notes that any user, teen or adult, who posts their birth date and birth city in their social media profiles lets identity thieves get “98% of the way” to stealing their identity.
Protecting Your Family
For those parents concerned about a teen’s exposure online, a simple option allows them to control what their teen does and does not post. Since parents still hold the keys to their children’s Facebook pages, they can monitor, edit, and even shut down usage remotely. Furthermore, the global posting isn’t a blanket update, but remains something that any user can choose to post to the world or just to their network of friends. Parents hoping to protect their teens and their families can get proactive protection with an identity theft monitoring service. By using an ID prevention service like @LifeLock, you can get instant updates whenever suspicious behavior creeps up on your teen’s social media platform or whenever thieves attempt to use their Social Security number. Better still, you get round-the-clock service to shut down any attempts to create a credit card or hack into bank accounts the instant that they happen.