CEO Mark Zuckerberg
this week said that younger children should be allowed on the site—for education purposes.
"In the future, software and technology will enable people to learn a lot from their fellow students," Zuckerberg said at the NewSchools Summit in California, according to Fortune
Currently, Facebook only allows people 13 and older to sign up for the site. It's easy to get around that, however, and Consumer Reports recently reported that there are approximately 7.5 million underage kids on Facebook
"That will be a fight we take on at some point," Zuckerberg said in regards to allowing younger kids on the site. "My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age."
Hampering that effort is the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which bans Web sites from collecting information from users under 13. As a result, "we haven't even begun this learning process," Zuckerberg said. "If they're lifted then we'd start to learn what works. We'd take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe."
It could be an uphill battle. Facebook chief technology officer Bret Taylor appeared on Capitol Hill Thursday
, where Sen. John Rockefeller grilled him about underage kids on the site.
"I want you to defend your company here because I don't know how you can," Rockefeller said.
Taylor insisted that "whenever we find out that someone has misrepresented their age on Facebook, we shut down that account. We don't allow people to misrepresent their age."
[RELATED_ARTICLE]In March, Facebook said
that it removes about 20,000 profiles from the site per day for various infractions, including users who are underage.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said the site is currently designed for two age groups: 13 to 18 and 18 and up.
"However, recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the Internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don't circumvent a system or lie about their age," the spokesperson continued. "As Mark noted, education is critical to ensuring that people of all ages use the Internet safely and responsibly. We agree with safety experts that communication between parents or guardians and kids about their use of the Internet is vital. We believe that services such as Facebook have a role to play in encouraging this."
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