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Consumer Reports Survey: 7.5 Million Facebook Users are Under the Age of 13, Violating the Site's Terms
May 10, 2011 (05:05 PM EDT)
Use of Social Media Increases Threat to Personal Security; Annual State of the Net Survey Also Found that Around $2.3 Billion Lost to Malware
YONKERS, N.Y., May 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Of the 20 million minors who actively used Facebook in the past year, 7.5 million of them were younger than 13, according to projections from Consumer Reports' latest State of the Net survey. Facebook's terms of service require users to be at least 13 years old.
Also among this group of minors using Facebook, more than 5 million were 10 and under. Consumer Reports survey found that their accounts were largely unsupervised by their parents, exposing them to malware or serious threats such as predators or bullies. The report on Internet security, which includes the full survey results and advice for parents of Facebook users, is featured in the June issue of Consumer Reports and on www.ConsumerReports.org.
"Despite Facebook's age requirements, many kids are using the site who shouldn't be," says Jeff Fox, Technology Editor for Consumer Reports. "What's even more troubling was the finding from our survey that indicated that a majority of parents of kids 10 and under seemed largely unconcerned by their children's use of the site."
Using Facebook presents children and their friends and family with safety, security and privacy risks. In the past year, the use of Facebook has exposed more than five million online U.S. households to some type of abuse including virus infections, identity theft, and—for a million children—bullying, the survey shows.
Social media is just one of the many ways consumers expose themselves and make themselves vulnerable to becoming a victim of identity theft or having to replace their computer. Earlier this year, Consumer Reports surveyed 2,089 online households nationwide and found that one-third had experienced a malicious software infection in the previous year. Consumer Reports estimates that malware cost consumers $2.3 billion last year and forced them to replace 1.3 millions PCs.
Increasing dependence on mobile phones has made consumers more susceptible to threats as well. Using data from the survey, Consumer Reports projects that millions of people jeopardize bank information, medical records, and other sensitive data by storing it on their mobile phones. Almost 30 percent of respondents who said they use their phones in such ways didn't take precautions to secure their phones.
Being Social but Safe
Protecting a Mobile Phone
Additional findings from Consumer Reports latest State of the Net are featured in the June issue of Consumer Reports magazine available on newsstands on May 10th or online at www.ConsumerReports.org. The cover report "Your Security" also highlights 25 things cops and crooks say consumers do to make them an easy target of crime, how bank, credit cards and other accounts are vulnerable to thieves, and Ratings of door locks and security software.
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SOURCE Consumer Reports