Jeremy Hunt warns Facebook: Stay away from my kids

Posted On: 
5th December 2017

Jeremy Hunt has warned Facebook to "stay away from my kids" after the social media giant announced it was offering accounts to children under 13.

Jeremy Hunt told Facebook to 'stay away from my kids'
Credit: 
PA

The Californian tech giant yesterday announced a new service in the US called 'Messenger Kids', tailored towards pre-teens - the cut-off age for the normal version of the site.

The news came just a day after Mr Hunt warned that ministers would "take action" against Facebook if it did not clamp down on youngsters lying about their age to sign up for accounts.

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Research suggests that half of those aged 11 and 12 already have accounts, despite the age limit of 13 imposed by the site.

It comes as part of a wider effort to improve children's mental health, including more counsellors for pupils suffering from issue such as stress, anxiety and bullying.

The Health Secretary told ITV's Peston on Sunday that firms should also be doing more to monitor the amount of time youngsters spend online, amid fears that long internet sessions are harming youngsters.

And he took to Twitter today to make clear his opposition to Facebook's latest initiative.

"Not sure this is the right direction at all. Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children,

"Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!"

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Hunt said he had already warned social media companies they faced a possible clampdown if they did not stop youngsters accessing their sites.

"We were very clear with them that if they don't do more to deal with the issue of people lying about their age and then signing up to a Facebook account when they're too young … then we would take action, but we want to give them a chance," he said.