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Mark Zuckerberg: Kids under 13 should be welcome on Facebook, too

Mark Zuckerberg says the under-13 set should be able to sign on to Facebook, despite a US law saying otherwise. Could a fight from Mark Zuckerberg change the law?

By Matthew Shaer / May 25, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder, says users under the age of 13 should be allowed to sign on to the popular social networking site.

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Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook and the inspiration for the Oscar-winning flick "The Social Network," says younger Web users should have the same privileges as their older counterparts.

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In an interview with the venture capitalist John Doerr at the NewSchools Venture Fund's Summit in Burlingame, Calif., Zuckerberg said he would "fight" to roll back the part of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which prevents companies from collecting information on users under the age of 13.

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"That will be a fight we take on at some point," Mark Zuckerberg said, according to Fortune. "My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age." Asked about user safety, Zuckerberg said that "[b]ecause of the restrictions we haven't even begun this learning process. If they're lifted then we'd start to learn what works. We'd take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe."

As Geoff Duncan of Digital Trends notes, the issue of whether or not kids can use Facebook is a complicated one –– plenty of younger users across the globe sign on to the social network anyway, regardless of whether or not they meet the minimum age requirement. Consumer Reports, for instance, recently estimated that 7.5 million users under the age of the 13 have managed to wrangle themselves a Facebook profile.

So why does Zuckerberg want the under-13 set on Facebook?

If we were feeling generous, we might say that he really does want all denizens of the Web to have a chance to enjoy the Facebook experience. If we were feeling less than generous, we might point out that young users make up a sizable amount of the overall Facebook membership –– at least 20 million Facebook users are under the age of 18, one source has reported –– and that Facebook could add a few million more by lowering the age requirement.

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More users, more ad views, more social gaming dollars, etc. Over to you, cherished Horizons readers. Is Mark Zuckerberg right? Should Facebook be opened to users under the age of 13? Drop us a line in the comments section. In the meantime, for more tech news, sign up for the free Innovation newsletter, which is emailed out every Wednesday.

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