The French government wants kids under 16 to get parental permission to go on Facebook

Moving underground?
Moving underground?
Image: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
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While Facebook is trying to lure a younger audience to its platform, the French government is pushing in the other direction. A draft bill proposes that children under 16 would need their parents’ permission to sign up for an account, the justice minister told reporters on Wednesday (Dec. 13)

According to Facebook’s own requirements, a minor cannot be under 13 to join the platform, although many kids easily bypass the rule. It won’t be difficult for them to circumvent the French regulation either, since it would only introduce a box to tick, indicating that the user had obtained their parents permission. However, by lying, the minor would now be breaking the law.

It’s not yet clear how the law would be enforced, or what the consequences for breaching it would be. The bill still has to be approved by the French parliament.  It comes after the country’s education minister announced earlier this week a ban of all use of cellphones in French schools, presumably including breaks.

Meanwhile, Facebook has introduced a new app called Messenger Kids, hoping to introduce children as young as six to its services. The announcement re-ignited the ongoing debate about the age children should be introduced to smartphones, and technology as a whole, with many parents declaring they wouldn’t let their children near the new app.

Former Facebook executives have also recently warned against letting kids use social media, emphasizing the ways they exploit human psychology by feedback loops, driven by dopamine and “social validation.” Sean Parker, the company’s founding president quipped that “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” while Chamath Palihapitiya, the former VP of user growth simply said that his kids are not allowed to use “this shit.”