Facebook Is Being Asked To Remove ‘Like’ Feature For Young Users

Facebook and other sites may have to remove their 'like' buttons for children, according to proposed new guidelines.

Facebook sign showing the 'like' icon
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Facebook and other sites may have to remove their 'like' buttons for children, according to proposed new guidelines.

Facebook is being urged — along with other sites, such as Instagram — to remove the “like” feature on its site in a new proposed system designed to improve online safety for children. A report from The Guardian says that a new 16-point program is being considered, which could see the social media site turn off the feature for young users, as well as adhere to other proposals, all of which are being put forward by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Such recommendations also include limiting data collection and implementing higher privacy settings as default, which includes disabling geolocation — a tool that identifies where a particular device is in the world. The aim is to increase internet safety for children, but also to limit how long users under 18 years of age spend on social media by reducing “nudges” and other methods of keeping people engaged online.

The ICO posted to their Twitter account on April 15, in which they refer to the new proposal as the “Age Appropriate Design” code.

Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham says that this is “the connected generation” and that the internet “and all its wonders are hardwired into their everyday lives.” While she says the internet can and should be used by children, she believes measures must be put into place to protect them.

“We shouldn’t have to prevent our children from being able to use it, but we must demand that they are protected when they do. This code does that.”

Social media companies may also have to takes steps to show that staff members are adhering to the guidelines, particularly when it comes to the design and use of services and applications that are likely to be used by children.

The National Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Children (NSPCC) — a U.K. charity that campaigns against child cruelty — have shown support for the new guidelines, saying that social media sites have “failed to prioritize child safety,” which, in the past, has led to “tragic consequences.”

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A young girl browses Facebook on her laptop
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Other charities are also welcoming the changes. Baroness Beeban Kidron, Chairwoman of the 5Rights Foundation, is in favor of the code, saying that it represented “a new deal between children and the tech sector.” Kidron led the parliamentary debate overlooking the creation of the new proposal.

“I firmly believe in the power of technology to transform lives, be a force for good and rise to the challenge of promoting the rights and safety of our children.”

The consultation will be held until the end of May. A final version of the code is expected to come into effect by 2020.