Facebook has responded to the furor caused by a smartphone application called "Skout," that allows users to "flirt" with others nearby and coordinate meetings, but which on Tuesday disabled its service for users under age 18 after three minors were separately sexually assaulted by older men posing as teens on the app.
As the New York Times reported about the case:
In Skout’s case, a majority of its users sign in through Facebook, which officially forbids members under the age of 13. Facebook has acknowledged that younger children still find ways onto the site. It said last week that it was fine-tuning controls that would allow children under 13 to join the service.
Now Facebook has responded to the news of Skout's actions with the following statement to TPM:
"Many recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to enforce age restrictions on the Internet, especially when parents want their children to access online content and services. We are in continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policymakers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment."
It should be noted that Facebook does require that users type in their age on the first screen during sign-up, and if users enter that they are under age 13, the website places a cookie on the user's machine that prevents them from signing up wit another age. Facebook has other protections in place for teens over 13, such as the fact that the "subcribe" function isn't active on minors accounts.