The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the Attorneys Generals of all 50 States have joined forces to pressure social networking sites to require greater parental controls and age verification tools so that minors can’t access the sites so easily.
Here’s what Blumenthal had to say:
“These sites say they want to cooperate, but they have resisted the concept of age or identity verification.”
While there are always several reasons companies resist change, one that really stands out to me as a probable explanation in this situation is the fear that something of value will be lost. Like members.
One of the biggest arguments social networks have claimed from the beginning about age verification ineffectiveness is how difficult it is to verify the age of a minor. Yes, there are challenges with this. But instead of clinging to this as an excuse not to act, why not focus on what can be done today. And that is age verify the adults.
Although Facebook has received some attention lately about a few predators getting on the site since opening up to the general public, they are most well known for their ability to separate users under 18 from those over. And ZoeysRoom seems to be doing a good job of verifying that its members are kids.
What I think we need to move away from is the notion that this problem is only an issue of age. Blumenthal had it right when he referred to it as “age or identity verification.”