Facebook Kicks Off 20,000 Underage Users Every Day

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Would it surprise you to learn that, according to a Pew study, nearly half of all 12-year-olds in the U.S. use social network sites, even though they don’t meet the minimum age requirements? For Facebook, it’s a headache they could do without.

But it’s nevertheless a headache they’re trying to address. The Daily Telegraph is reporting that roughly 20,000 children are booted off Facebook every day for lying about their age.

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of Facebook’s headquarters)

But it could be considered an almost impossible problem to solve because Facebook has no mechanisms to work out whether a new user is telling the truth when he or she signs up. “It’s not perfect,” said Facebook’s chief privacy adviser Mozelle Thompson.

And the 20,000 figure quoted is but a fraction of the 600 million (and ever growing) users that are on Facebook. What’s more, underage users aren’t merely an issue for the social network site but for regulators concerned with privacy issues. In the U.S., that’s been spearheaded of late by Senator Al Franken, who has already been the co-author of a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg related to collecting the personal data of users.

“These younger users,” said Franken (referring at the time to teenagers between the age of 13-17) are the most vulnerable to predators on Facebook and the rest of the Internet and it should be impossible for them to inadvertently share their phone numbers and home addresses with anyone.” And Franken would no doubt note the grim irony that, when it comes to the pre-teen market, this is no laughing matter. (via Fast Company)

(More on TIME.com: See Mark Zuckerberg, TIME’s Person of the Year)