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Giant social network Facebook may give access to children under 13

Facebook is considering allowing preteens to use the social-networking service under parental supervision. The possibility has heated up the debate over privacy and safety in the Internet age.

June 04, 2012|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

Given Facebook's past privacy flaps, Los Angeles resident Paula Whidden said she's concerned about the company's plans for children, particularly now that it's under pressure to deliver returns to shareholders. The 43-year-old mom of two who blogs about family and faith says she uses Facebook "prolifically" but won't let her 11-year-old or 8-year-old anywhere near it.

"I would say as a parent I wouldn't immediately trust the limitations they put," she said. "I would be very leery based on Facebook's history."

Parents aren't the only ones worried that kids would be vulnerable. Lawmakers also expressed concern Monday.

"We acknowledge that more and more children under the age of 13 are using Facebook, and this is a problem that needs to be addressed," Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe L. Barton (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Monday. "However, we believe strongly that children and their personal information should not be viewed as a commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder."

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

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