Editor's Comment: Why Facebook must self-censor

Noelle McElhatton
Noelle McElhatton

In his report 'Letting Children be Children,' Mothers' Union chief executive Reg Bailey said too many parents either encourage or turn a blind eye to children signing up to sites such as Facebook, watching adult films and so on.

Much of the report, commissioned by the government and published in June, is about common sense and consistency. Films and games are rated by the BBFC; why are music videos not rated?

Nanny state? Actually it's the 'Big Society' lot pushing a moral agenda that will affect brand-owners and the media. There is, however, an elephant in the room: Facebook.

Last year, regulator Ofcom published a report saying the age-restriction policies of Facebook and other social media sites are often ignored. As we know, children aspire to behave older. If you are 10 years old, Facebook has been in existence for almost your whole life. In the post-digital age, it may seem natural to pre-teens to be on 'FaceyB'.

Then what? Where is nanny?

The government cannot censor Facebook, so it is to the Advertising Association's credit that it has persuaded the site to join its industry 'children's panel', set up in response to the Bailey report, as we reveal in our cover story this issue.

As it gears up for flotation in 2012, Facebook badly needs this self-regulatory platform. Almost 1m UK under-12s are on the site, according to 2010 figures from the Advertising Association. Facebook continues to provide innovations for brand advertisers, but if its age demographic heads further south, those brands will have to be ever-more careful that adult content on the site is kept from pre-teens.

Facebook is right to take this step. The alternative would be, like News International before it, to have to face up to the wrath of Mumsnet and its powerful allies.



Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer