I am a newbie with Facebook. I only joined about three weeks ago. I don't need to justify why I joined, or why I hadn't joined until now, but basically ex-students coerced me into joining so we could keep in touch. These "kids", who are now 45-47 years old have been looking for me for 30 years so I figured, what the heck, I'll join Facebook even though I don't really believe in it that much. I agree that it's a great way to stay in touch with family and friends, but beyond that I don't have much more use for it.
All of that really has nothing to do with the main focus of this entry, but I just wanted to make my position clear about facebook. It's fine for what it is. But I could live without it if I had to.
Having put all that out there, I have just read in the L.A. Times that Facebook wants to offer access to their site to kids under the age of 13. This is a rather risky step in a number of ways.However; ironically, there's already 7.5 million kids under the age of 10 who are already on Facebook. (presumably on their parents' accounts).
The two biggest concerns for most parents about letting their kids have their own accounts on Facebook are probably safety and privacy. For Facebook, it's mostly a commercial consideration. Now that they are on the stock market radar they are pressured to make even more money and kids are a target that advertisers covet. Hence, this is pretty much all about adding more money to Facebook.
I would say that Facebook is venturing into risky territory here. The liability factor alone seems to be enough reason to stay away from opening the site (officially) to minors. Facebook is claiming that minors will only be allowed on with parental controls but really, how effective are parental controls?
All in all, Facebook brags that they have over 900 million subscribers worldwide. Do they really need kids added to that mix? While it will not impact my life one way or another if Facebook allows kids onto their site, as an ex-teacher I have always been a little over-protective of kids' rights and lives and I'd hate to see either one compromised on a social site that just wants to add kids to their population to add to their income. It's certainly justifiable in a capitalistic system, but is it the right thing to do?