To use Facebook, you must be at least 13 years old. But this rule is not always respected. In a recent blog post, the social network even admits that despite the existing restrictions when creating a new account, kids under 13 often bypass these restrictions. And this is not just a problem for Facebook, but for the entire industry.

Some believe that the best way to prevent people under 13 from using Facebook would be to ask for ID when creating an account. But for the company, this method would have many limitations.

“Access to government IDs varies depending on where you live in the world, as does the information contained in an ID, like a birthday. Some people have access to IDs, but don’t get them unless they choose to travel, and some just can’t afford them. Indeed,the lack of access to IDs disproportionately impacts underserved communities around the world, especially young women,” says Facebook.

AI to detect those under 13

For Facebook, the best strategy to exclude under-13s from its platform remains the development of technologies capable of detecting them. “Artificial intelligence is the cornerstone of our approach,” the company says.

Facebook is currently using technology that can help it determine a user’s age, based on various signals. “We look at things like people wishing you a happy birthday and the age written in those messages, for example, “Happy 21st birthday!” or “Happy Quinceañera.” We also look at the age you’ve shared with us on Facebook and apply it to our other apps where you’ve linked your accounts and vice versa – so if you share your birthday with us on Facebook, we’ll use the same for your linked account on Instagram, the company explains.

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Facebook admits that at the moment, the technologies it uses are far from perfect. “[…], but that’s why it’s important that we use it with many other signals to understand people’s ages,” Facebook says. It also says it is creating a technology similar to the one used to protect underage users on Instagram to find and remove accounts used by people under 13.

Soon, a Facebook for under 13s?

Another strategy of the company: to create a special experience for the under-13s. In essence, the idea is that if Facebook offers a version of its social network for under-13s, they will no longer have a reason to create an account on the over-13 version.

It would be an age-appropriate experience, and one that would be controlled by parents. There is no doubt, however, that if Facebook launches a children’s version of its social network, this project will run into the reluctance of a part of the public opinion.

It should also be remembered that Facebook recently announced a series of measures aimed at better protecting users who are over 13 but under 18 on its applications. Among these measures, there are restrictions on the possibilities of advertising targeting (it is no longer possible to target minor users according to their interests).