Snapchat’s verification system is not preventing under-age children from using the app. ‘There is no fool-proof verification system,’ according Stephen Collins, senior director of public policy at Snap.
At the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing, a representatives for Snapchat confirmed that children who were too young to use it were able to bypass current safeguards.
“We don’t want under-13s on the platform, we take steps to prevent them joining the platform, but you’re absolutely right: The end result is that there is no foolproof verification system,” said Stephen Collins, a senior director of public policy at Snapchat’s parent company.
“We hope that parents, of course, and carers will help children adjust their phones to take advantage of those apps which are safest and most age-appropriate for them.”
Currently, Snapchat users are only required to self-declare their age by simply entering their date of birth when signing up to the app. Which they can obviously just lie about.
Other measures designed to prevent children under the age of 13 from using Snapchat include listing the app in the Teen section of the Google Play store for people downloading the app to Android smartphones and tablets. The Snapchat app is also listed in the ’12+’ section of Apple’s App Store.
Child safety advocates called on Snapchat to do more to put inn place mechanisms to keep young users safe online.
“We know that 18 per cent of eight to 11 year olds have a social media account, and yet social networks still fail to build child safety measures into their platforms from the start,” Tony Stower, head of child safety online at the NSPCC, said in a statement to The Independent. “Dealing with it after harm has taken place is simply too late.”
When asked how its age verification methods could be improved, Mr Collins said the platform was considering implementing parental consent, though he said this would also potentially be spoofed by underage users.
Advice for parents
Use common sense when parenting your child online. It is your responsibility to make sure you have full control of what your child can access online. Once you have the internet controls in place, make sure your child can only access websites or apps that are appropriate for their age. Your child will almost certainly not like this, but you’re there to be a parent to them, not their best friend.