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    Washington Post: Lawmakers, advocates push social networks for more protection of youngest users

    The Washington Post reports on a push by legislators and consumer groups to strengthen privacy online for youths:

    Young children are flocking to social networking Web sites that had been the domain of smart phone-toting high-schoolers and young adults. About 5 million U.S. users on Facebook are younger than 10 and 2.5 million subscribers are 11 or 12 years old, according to a recent survey by Consumer Reports magazine.

    And the youngest of Web users aren’t just on Facebook. They are logging onto social networks such as Formspring, tweeting their location to the Web, and making friends out of strangers on Disney and other games sites.

    That’s a lot of freedom on the Internet for children […]

    Maybe too much freedom, in the opinion of child advocates and lawmakers, who are pressuring companies to work harder to keep the youngest users offline and to create federal rules that would limit how companies collect information about children on the Internet. […]

    U.S. Reps. Ed J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Tex.) have proposed a bill that would make it harder for children to be tracked online and limit marketers from gathering information on a teen’s whereabouts and personal information. […]

    School districts are grappling with policies on how to deal with underage use.

    “The question is: If children are doing this from home, what is our responsibility and should we be working with the children?” said a spokesman for the Fairfax County school district.

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