Facebook has been far too lax in its policies around underage users joining its social media platform, so now, it commits to making more aggressive changes when it comes to enforcing such rules.
Both Facebook and Instagram will more proactively lock the accounts of users who are suspected to be aged below 13. It's a much firmer policy than the previous one, which only investigated accounts if they're reported to be underage.
Now, Facebook seeks to immediately lock any underage account they stumble upon, even if they're reported for other violations such as objectionable content.
What Will Happen To Underage Accounts On Facebook
Those whose accounts will be locked will be required to provide proof that they're over 13, including a government-issued ID, to reclaim their profile. It should be noted, however, that this problem stems from Facebook not requiring proof of age in the signup process.
For Facebook and Instagram, this new policy could lead to reduced user growth and reduced revenue. Both apps' formerly more lax approach allowed those 13 years or below to sign up and use the services so by the time they turn the appropriate age, they already built a social graph and history of content that binds them to the platforms even stronger.
How Facebook Determines Underage Accounts
The move is a response to an undercover documentary by Channel 4 in the UK. In it, a journalist became a Facebook content reviewer through a third-party firm and revealed Facebook's alarmingly flippant approach toward ensuring people were of the right age.
"We have to have an admission that the person is underage. If not, we just like pretend that we are blind and that we don't know what underage looks like," said the journalist.
Facebook stresses that this is a change to how reviewers are trained to enforce age policies for both Facebook and Instagram. It doesn't mean the company is going to facilitate an all-out purge of underage users, only that it will be more aggressive about those it will come across. In short, the policy remains the same — the enforcement just got a lot stricter.
"We are constantly improving our Community Standards and we've invested significantly in being able to enforce them effectively. This is a complex task, and we have more work to do. But we are committed to getting it right so Facebook is a safe place for people and their friends," the company wrote in a blog post.