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Facebook Adviser Criticises ‘Lax’ Child Checks

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One of Facebook’s independent child safety advisers has criticised the firm over a scheme that gave it access to teenagers’ highly personal information, without taking more effort to verify their parents had given permission.

Facebook said participating teens had provided signed parental consent forms.

But tests by the BBC and others suggested youngsters could easily sign up without getting permission.

Stephen Balkam said Facebook’s “rather lax approach” was very worrying.

Facebook is still carrying out the “market research” on Android devices.

But it ended the effort on iPhones because it broke Apple’s rules.

“Facebook Atlas is a questionable programme on a number of fronts,” said Mr Balkam, chief executive of the Family Online Safety Institute and a member of Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board.

“Most concerning is the rather lax approach to getting verifiable parental consent for the teens who participated.

“Given the tech backlash in general and the intense focus on Facebook’s privacy policies, this is most unfortunate.”

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