Publisher’s Points to Ponder: Is Facebook Responsible for Protecting Children?

Various groups are rallying against Facebook to motivate policy change regarding the protection of children online. More specifically, the target is on the recently launched “Messenger app for Kids” that allows kids to communicate with family and friends at their parents’ discretion.

The CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has not remained silent on the concerns of these child advocacy groups. Some of these advocates intimate the Facebook app, along with other social media apps, lead to poor mental and unhealthy body perception. In a letter to USA Today, Zuckerberg said, “Messenger Kids does not have advertisements or inapp purchase options, and parents have control over their child’s experience within the app.” He further states, Messenger Kids was released in 2017 and was built from the ground up with input from families as well as privacy and safety experts to protect kids’ privacy and put parents in control.”

Considering Zuckerberg’s rebuttal, do you believe Facebook did their due diligence to protect your kids online? Increasing research shows excessive social media use may negatively impact the well-being of children as young as age six. For this reason, a coalition of child advocacy groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) claiming the Facebook Messenger Kids app violates privacy and encourages the use of the app at younger ages. Josh Golin, executive director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said, “If you get kids using Facebook when they are seven, there is a much bigger chance they’ll stay on Facebook into their teens.”

The social media giant was launched in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin at Harvard University. The core group allowed students at Stanford, Columbia and Yale universities to join the network. By the end of the year, 1 million users became active on the site. The following year, high school students were allowed to join. In May 2012, the initial public offering (IPO) became effective, and in October, Facebook reached the 1 billion active monthly users mark. After several acquirements, strategic partnerships, the rise of stock and the flood of lawsuits, Facebook is still regarded as a social media giant and forerunner. Should Facebook and other social media entrepreneurs be held accountable for protecting children online, or is it ultimately the parent’s responsibility?

Share your opinion about this article with us by sending a letter to the editor or commenting on Facebook via post or messenger app. We would love to hear opinions from all age groups. Students under the age of 18, must have their parents’ permission to submit an opinion on this topic.

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