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Facebook seizes opportunity to widen user base with 6-year-olds, reveals internal blog

According to internal documents, Facebook has been actively recruiting staff to create products for children as young as six years old, for the purpose of diversifying its user base. First reported by NBCNews, they were able to access the document for the internal blog post dated April 9, 2021 (whose author’s name was redacted before access was granted).

In redacted form, Frances Haugen’s legal counsel provided these documents to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and Congress on behalf of the whistleblower and former Facebook product manager. According to the statement, the company is making a ‘major investment in youth’ and has ‘set up an internal virtual team to make safer, more private experiences for the youth that improve their well-being and the well-being of families’.

During the blog post, the company stated that it was hiring several positions as it expanded into offering its entire line of products to users under the current age limit of 13 years of age. Illustrations in the blog highlighted new age groups for kids from six to nine years old, tweens from ten to twelve years old, and early teens from 13 to 15 years old as well as late teens from 16 to 17 years old, and adults over 18 years old.

A diagram titled ‘Today’ shows how the company complies with the FTC’s current regulations regarding online services targeted towards children under 13 years old, dubbed Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA). The blog post explains that under the COPAA line, users over 13 years of age are treated like other platform users, while users younger than 13 cannot use the platform. A second illustration, dubbed ‘And in the future,’ removes these restrictions, replacing them with two new categories — ‘Tweens 10-12’ and ‘Kids 6-9’. The slide does not really explain how it will circumvent the COPPA rule in the future.

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In a response to NBCNews, Facebook referred to a blog it originally wrote in response to the Wall Street Journal’s coverage that highlighted Facebook’s efforts to attract younger audiences, saying, ‘Companies that operate in a highly competitive space — including the Wall Street Journal — make efforts to appeal to younger generations. Considering that our competitors are doing the same thing, it would actually be newsworthy if Facebook didn’t do this work’.


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