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On the Internet, Google+ Knows You're A TOS-Violating 10-Year-Old Dog

from the unintended-consequences dept

theodp writes
"In its tear-jerker 'Dear Sophie' Google Chrome ad, a father creates a Gmail account (dear.sophie.lee@gmail.com) for his just-born daughter to preserve memories of her childhood. So, how does that work out in real life? Not so good, at least in the case of 10-year-old Alex Sutherland, who the WSJ reports was reduced to tears after being notified that the Gmail account his father created on his behalf two years earlier would be deleted because the Google+ Profile Alex created triggered a Google Terms of Service age violation. 'You made my son cry, Google,' wrote blogger Martin Sutherland. 'I'm not inclined to forgive that.' Not to pile on, but Alex may also be persona non grata at Khan Academy, where learning under the age of 13 can also constitute a TOS violation."
To be fair, the "under 13" age issue is not something that should be blamed on Google, Khan Academy or any other site (and, really, if theodp wanted to be accurate, he could list most of the top sites on the internet, who all have this same restriction). It's (of course!) the result of poorly thought out legislation. Namely, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act -- another one of these "for the children" laws that politicians love to pass without thinking about the unintended consequences. Here, as in many cases, the intentions may be good: to prevent websites from collecting too much info from children who don't quite recognize what they're doing, but the actual results are that most sites simply put in their terms of service that the site is not for people under 13, even if everyone assumes that those under 13 still use those sites.

Of course, even bringing up how silly this is can lead to backlash. When Mark Zuckerberg recently suggested that perhaps the law needed some rethinking to make it more reasonable for those under 13 to use useful parts of the internet, it was dubbed "controversial", and he had to clarify his remarks to make clear that he wasn't trying to get under 13 kids on the site any time soon.

Either way, it does seem silly for Google to put out a commercial in which a father creates an email address for someone under 13... when it's taking away accounts from others who do the same thing...

Filed Under: coppa, terms of service, under 13
Companies: google, khan academy

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2011 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Entitlement

    The primary job of a child is to grow up.

    And it's the job of the parents to help them survive and do that well. It is not the place of the neighbors.

    Then they turn eighteen and suddenly they are expected to "just know" all sorts of stuff which they have never before been given the opportunity to find out about.

    Things like sex! That's why child molesters are good! They're teachers!

    Kids are tough. Expose them to everything, especially knowledge of all the badness in the world.

    Umm, no. Kids are different, and they are not all "tough" enough to handle anything that can get thrown at them. Kids *need* protection from some of the bad stuff in the world.

    The function of a parent is to prevent them from getting damaged.

    Which is exactly why many parents are concerned about what happens to their children online. They realize that simply keeping their kids offline would also be bad for them, so they seek to make online safer for them instead, much to the dismay of some who do bad things to them.

    Anything short of damage is fair game.

    Damage is exactly what the parents are trying to prevent. Trying to pretend that the parents are actually trying to damage their kids instead is ludicrous.

    Protecting them too much stops them from growing up, then they are in trouble once they turn eighteen.

    It is up to the parents to determine what is "too much". It is much easier for a parent that feels that the internet is too "tame" for their child to supplement it with additional experiences than it is the other way around. In fact, the other way around is practically impossible.

    That is no way to raise children.

    Maybe you think other people's children aren't getting exposed to enough on the net. I say, maybe you should quit trying to raise other people's children.

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