There are more than 7.5 million Facebook users under the site's required age of 13, according to a recent Consumer Reports study. Many are there with the casual — if not informed — consent of their parents. Not so much a 12-year-old girl in Ireland, whose father is suing the world's largest social network after it failed to prevent the girl from posting suggestive photos of herself, which reportedly led to sexually explicit emails from men all over the world.
"As well as posting sexually explicit material, the girl also gave personal details including where she lived and the school she attended," the BBC reports. "The writ lodged in Belfast High Court on Monday alleged that Facebook had been 'guilty of negligence and had created 'a risk of sexual and physical harm' to the child."
So where were the parents when the girl was busy posting those pics in which she's "made-up" and "in a provocative pose" — you're no doubt asking. The Dad, in fact, shut down his daughter's original Facebook profile, so she launched another one. The girl, who reportedly suffers from emotional problems, was in the custody of Northern Health and Social Care Trust when she posted the offending images. Dad's suing that agency, too.
What are Dad's chances at hitting that huge cash payout? I'm not a lawyer, but I do watch a lot of "Law & Order," so let's consider vauge precedent. Earlier this month, a U.S. federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Village Voice Media filed by an underage prostitute claiming its Backpage.com classifieds site enabled her exploitation.
"My own personal view is that Facebook isn't suitable for under-18s, but the company isn't even able to uphold its own policy of keeping under-13s out," the father's lawyer, Hilary Carmichael, told the BBC. "An age check, like asking for a passport number would be a simple measure for Facebook to implement."
That's undoubtebly more trouble than Facebook — or Google+ or any other site with a 13-year-old age requirement — is willing to try. In fact, obtaining a passport is undoubtedly more trouble than Facebook users want to deal with. Effective parenting is a far simpler solution overall, though in this unfortunate case, the father seems to be doing all he can.
More on the annoying way we live now:
- 9/11 Memorial app dedicates your Facebook status to victims
- If Google+ is an 'identity service,' what's Facebook?
- Lamebook challenges Facebook, doesn't lose