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Facebook founder wants to open the site to kids

Mark Zuckerberg believes social network will help with education

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg believes children under 13 should be allowed to use the social network.

At present, in the US Facebook users must be aged 13 or over to ensure the site complies with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which became law in the US in 1998. However, in the UK there is no legislation that requires a child to be 13 or above to use the site, but the social network's terms and conditions require this.

"My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age," Zuckerberg said. "Because of the [legal] restrictions we haven't even begun this learning process. If they're lifted then we'd start to learn what works."

Facebook says it closes around 20,000 accounts on the social network every day, because the holders are underage.

Zuckerbeg also said he would challenge the US legislation "at some point".

However, Claire Perry, Conservative MP for Devizes, who has campaigned for online safety, told The Telegraph: "I would be very uncomfortable about extending this and I think it's very, very irresponsible of Facebook to be suggesting it".

"With close parental supervision all of these social networking sites can be interesting and enjoyable. But I know from my own experience it is all too easy for a young child to get involved in situations that I think are really uncomfortable," she said.

A Facebook spokesperson said the social network is "currently designed for two age groups, 13 to 18 year olds and 18 and up".

"We provide extensive safety and privacy controls based on the age provided. However, recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don't circumvent a system or lie about their age. We agree with safety experts that communication between parents or guardians and kids about their use of the internet is vital."

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