Twelve-year-old Coreco Ja’Quan Pearson of Georgia, more commonly known as C.J., created quite a buzz last month when he posted a video of himself questioning President Obama’s patriotism. Now he may have to wait until his next birthday to continue to grow his online presence.
Pearson’s video went viral and has amassed nearly one million views on YouTube. But it did not come without one unintended consequence to his Facebook page. Pearson, under Facebook’s minimum age requirement of 13, was upset to find out that he was locked out of his account.
After failing to get into his personal page, he created a new one, according to a Fox News blog post. He also ran a public page where he is listed as a “public figure,” but he is barred from administering the web page, according to Fox. The page has over 20,000 likes.
“Due to the fact that approximately 7.5 million kids (under the age of 13) log in to Facebook, I would most definitely have to say the removal of my account was due to partisan politics, rather than actually upholding their actual Terms of Service agreement,” Pearson wrote in an email interview.
Did the Facebook compliance regulators get to Pearson first, or did his increased public profile and conservative-political views make this a partisan hit job? The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. In all likelihood, Pearson’s skyrocketing profile, which has recently included interviews on Fox News, drew unwarranted attention from Facebook’s user agreement enforcement apparatus and it was an opportunity for the company to flex its muscles, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
This does not mean that the right has not jumped on the story with cries of freedom of speech violations. There has been more than one story asserting that Pearson was given the boot for his political beliefs.
A Reuters report from 2012 estimated in excess of five million children under the age of 13 were on Facebook. This, despite the company banning as many as 800,000 a year through its screening process, according to Reuters. Facebook requires users to be at least 13 to comply with the Children's Online Policy Protection Act or COPPA, according to the Guardian.
“You have to be 13 to have a Facebook account. This is a requirement, not a suggestion. He was locked out because he lied about his age, not because of the content,” read a Facebook statement.
While Pearson waits until his thirteenth birthday on July 31, he is having his “editor,” Alan Davidson, write posts for him. In a post after he was locked out, he wrote:
I am having my Editor, Alan Davidson post on my behalf on this page while Facebook continues to lock me out. The 1st amendment is obviously not a big concern to the powers at be at Facebook, but we will continue to fight back!
Pearson is the founder and executive director of Young Georgians in Government, which also operates a Facebook page. The organization is dedicated to getting kids involved and learn about the political process.