Leaked Documents Reveal Facebook is Targeting Children as Young as 6

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    “Internal documents show that Facebook has been actively hiring employees to build products that target children as young as 6 to expand its user base,” reports NBC News — apparently within just the last six months. “Our company is making a major investment…” begins an internal Facebook blog post seen by NBC. The blog post announces that the company was dedicating a team “to make safer, more private, experiences for youth…” It goes on to point out this marked a new direction for Facebook, since “For many of our products, we historically haven’t designed for under 13.” Further down the post adds that “Our work prioritizes the best interests of the child…” Diagrams illustrate proposed new target age groups, ranging from kids 6 to 9 years old and tweens 10 to 12 years old — along with existing targets of early teens from 13 to 15 years old, late teens from 16 to 17 years old, and adults… Critics of the company say these documents are part of a long-standing pattern of Facebook attempting to attract younger users as early as possible. “Facebook and Instagram have repeatedly shown that they simply can’t be trusted when it comes to the well-being of children and teens,” said James Steyer, the founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that researches the relationship between children and the digital world. “They need to focus on cleaning up their existing platforms instead of trying to hook more children to their addictive platforms at younger and younger ages….” The post came just one week before a coalition of 35 organizations and 64 individual experts, coordinated by Fairplay, formerly known as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a Boston-based nonprofit, raised concerns about privacy, screen time, mental health, self-esteem and commercial pressure in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “These documents make clear that instead of working to make its existing platforms less harmful to teens, Facebook’s priority was to ensnare younger children and create a pipeline of lifetime users of Facebook products,” Fairplay’s executive director Josh Golin told NBC News. “Despite Facebook’s claims that their motivation for Instagram for Kids is to create a safer experience for preteens, it’s clear the real reason is Facebook is fixated on kids to drive growth. Facebook products aren’t safe for younger children, and a company that consistently puts profits ahead of young people’s well-being has no business building platforms for kids.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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