Dad sues Facebook after 11-year-old shared photos and messages with men
A father of a girl who had claimed that his daughter claims, “was exposed to online sexual predators at the age of 11”, would be paid an undisclosed amount as an out of court settlement after he sued the social networking website for online abuse, reported Daily Mail. After four years of legal wrangles, a trial had been due to begin last week.
The father, who has remained anonymous, had sued Facebook for failing to enforce its age restriction policy. His 11-year-old daughter from Northern Ireland, who is only referred to as GS in legal documents, used the social network site to create multiple Facebook accounts and uploaded sexual photos of herself and communicated with the men on the website. Facebook should have done more to enforce its age restrictions policies and is liable for the sexual predators his daughter was exposed to on the site, said the father. The accounts were later taken down by the social network.
The social network, which stipulates that users must be at least 13 years old, has faced a number of issues in the past regarding underage membership. According to the reports, when Facebook found out that the girl was under the age of 13, they took down the profiles. However, her father says the damage was already done and that Facebook needs to do more to ensure that all users are over the age of 13.
The father’s lawyer Hilary Carmichael claimed Facebook had a “duty of care” towards the girl and was “negligent”, as there is no system in place to stop users from giving their false ages. She also said that that Facebook could implement a “simple” age verification system via passport number, social security number, PAN card, Aadhaar card number, or other similar legal and government documents.
Hilary Carmichael said: ‘My own personal view is that Facebook isn’t suitable for under-18s, but the company isn’t even able to uphold its own policy of keeping under-13s out.”
“By registering an account and using Facebook the child might be exposing herself to sexual predators or other grave risks affecting her emotional and physical health,” the court documents said.
“People have to be 13 to sign up to Facebook. When we become aware that someone is under 13 and they have therefore lied about their age, we remove their account,” a Facebook spokesman explained.
“Regarding this legal case, all the parties are bound by the confidentiality terms – including Facebook,” he added.
Facebook currently allows parents to report any accounts of individuals under the age of 13 for review, according to the Sunday Times. In addition to the reporting feature, Facebook also encourages parents to exercise discretion on their own computers and oversee their kids’ internet use. However, at present, there are no measures in place for enforcing age restrictions on Facebook.