A federal law intended to protect children’s privacy may unwittingly lead them to reveal too much on Facebook, a provocative new academic study shows, in the latest example of how difficult it is to regulate the digital lives of minors.
Facebook prohibits children under 13 from signing up for an account, because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which requires Web companies to obtain parental consent before collecting personal data on children under 13. To get around the ban, children often lie about their ages. Parents sometimes help them lie, and to keep an eye on what they post, they become their Facebook friends. This year, Consumer Reports estimated that Facebook had more than five million children under age 13.
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