(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – Google announced they are dropping the minimum age for users to sign up for their social media network, Google+. The new age, set at 13 years old, now gives all teenagers full access to the platform, including networking, messaging, and even video chatting capabilities. Although Google also launched a resource site that includes tips for ensuring safe use, the very idea of allowing 13 year olds to access the platform in its fullest raises privacy concerns.
Kenneth C. Wisnefski, social media and online privacy expert and founder / CEO of WebiMax, states:
- Allowing this age group to have full access to the social media platform puts them at high risk. In September, 2011, 29 million people were using Google+.
- This age group (13 years old – 17 years old) may not grasp the full potential of Google+ and could lack the intellectual capacity to make informed decisions while on the site, i.e. choosing to network with a specific person, video chatting with a group of unknown people, revealing specific information, etc.
- We saw in mid-2011 privacy concerns arise when Apple’s iPhone and Facebook both required location-based services. Consumers felt so strongly against these measures, they asked Apple and Facebook to change their policies – and both companies listened, reversing these services.
- Google is trying to reach a broader audience and increase the amount of followers, most likely due to intense competition from rival Facebook. Expanding the minimum age requirement is the method they have chosen. In addition, Google now requires users to sign up for Google+ when signing up for a Google account (Gmail, etc.).
- Google’s aggressive strategy may actually turn people away from using their services.
Ken Wisnefski is available for comment in the Philadelphia / New York Market. Please contact John Borkowski at [email protected] or (609) 576-5175.