Facebook is dodging questions about plans to open its network to young children, two concerned House lawmakers said today. In June, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook was exploring technology that could allow kids on the site under parental supervision. Responding to a letter from the House representatives, Facebook explained it had not yet made a final decision about officially allowing the under-13 audience. It also did not answer questions about what kinds of data it would collect or advertisements it might show to them.
The company faces pressure to protect the millions of children who lie about their age and use the site anyway. Concerns include predators and the troubling rise of cyber-bullying. But opening up to a massive new market of users won’t hurt Facebook’s business either, and that is what has privacy advocates concerned. As Facebook tries to grow its use and revenues on mobile devices, it’s interesting to think that these children are the first generation growing up as smartphone-natives.