Not Much 'Likes' for FB Access to Below-teen Friends

Cyber security experts, police express concern over children’s access to social media; say kids become unsuspecting victims of online bullying, spyware through malicious links

Published: 16th June 2014 07:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th June 2014 11:34 AM   |  A+A-

Facebook

COIMBATORE: The recent move by the popular social networking site, Facebook, for a system to be incorporated where children under 13 years of age are allowed to open accounts has thrown up some conundrums for parents as well as the police, who remain sceptical of the “workability” of such a system.

On the face of it, there does seem to be some logic to the plans of the social networking site to incorporate such a system. Previously, kids under 13 years of age could access the site by using “inaccurate” login details and by incorrectly claiming to be much older than they actually were. Facebook has said that under the new system newly opened accounts of children under the age of 13, can be monitored by their parents who “authorise” and “supervise” the accounts.

However, Coimbatore Superintendent of Police M Sudhakar, who used to head the cyber crime cell in Chennai, said that there was still no “foolproof” mechanism to ensure that children and teenagers are protected from the “multifarious threats” they are exposed to online.

Sudhakar believes that there have always been ways to subvert the system by the person who is opening an account with a social networking site. “We use identity proofs such as ration cards and other documents for availing of various services. Though I do not advocate such extreme measures for users to become active online, some safeguards to ensure that the person’s identity is accurate must be taken,” he said.

Officers from the cyber crime cell of the Coimbatore City Police concur. They claim that incidents of cyber bullying, where users are subjected to hateful or defamatory comments have risen over the last few years. They said that school students are vulnerable to such incidents, especially from their peer group.

“A few months ago, a school student had apparently become extremely depressed over some of her friends posting defamatory comments about her on an online forum. Though no complaint was registered, such incidents are commonplace and could negatively affect the lives of young people,” said an officer from the department.

Police have also claimed that children become unsuspecting victims for allowing malware to enter computer systems through backdoor. “Children are prone to clicking malicious links, which then install themselves on computer systems.

These programs then surreptitiously spy on the computer activities of all users who use the system, and sometimes, they even allow for sensitive information to be stolen,” said a police officer.

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