Facebook has agreed to an out of court settlement after being accused of failing to enforce its age restriction policy.
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.
In the latest dispute, it is claimed that a girl aged just 11 was “exposed to online sexual predators” as a result of Facebook’s negligence. The girl’s father has been pursuing a legal battle for more than four years, with a trial due to begin last week prior to the agreed settlement.
Court documents reveal that the girl uploaded sexual images of herself and used several different Facebook accounts to contact men. Although the accounts were eventually taken down by Facebook, it is being claimed that the social network failed in its “duty of care” because users are easily able to misrepresent their age.
Posting excerpts from the court documents online, The Sunday Times revealed that the legal case centred on claims that Facebook can and should do more to prevent underage users from registering with the site.
“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. [Facebook] are obviously aware that children who should not be using Facebook are doing so by using the simple device of misrepresenting their age.”
A spokesperson for Facebook refused to comment specifically regarding the court case, but did reiterate that accounts belonging to anyone under the age of 13 are immediately removed. However, many have claimed that it would be relatively straightforward for the site to introduce a more robust age checking system, such as requesting a passport number.
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