Some of the larger social media players are starting to shift to more age-appropriate platform designs to accommodate younger users.
Everyone online, including businesses, must be aware of these changes and post content in accordance with new regulations.
Here we’ll explore the motivations behind the change, and how businesses will be affected by these more age-appropriate platform designs.
Why are Facebook and Twitter trying to become more age-appropriate?
Child safety while on the Internet or electronic devices is becoming much more important for online companies.
It should have been important before, but now they’re being held accountable for unsavoury or unacceptable interactions on their platforms.
For example, several Apple investors have challenged the company to make iPhones and other devices much safer for kids. If the tech giant doesn’t comply, they could lose out on substantial investment.
Facebook and Twitter are very proud of their age restrictions (you must be 13 years old to have an account). However, they are aware that many children younger than this have access to their platforms and are beginning to make changes to their site.
It is important to protect children of all ages from cyberbullying, fake news, unwanted advances and other Internet-based threats. That is why Facebook and Twitter, at least, are now choosing to use more age-appropriate platform designs and we expect other channels to follow suit.
What’s going to happen?
Several charities, including the NSPCC and The Children’s Society, have been campaigning for more age-appropriate platform designs for years.
The NSPCC state that because these platforms are available to children as young as 13, “everything should be designed for a 13-year-old rather than assuming children can make sound choices like adults”.
The Government has now agreed to legislate a code of practice for social media sites setting out a minimum standard for age-appropriate platform design.
Non-compliance could result in large fines of up to £17m or 4% of global turnover.
Facebook, Twitter and several other companies are already beginning to implement changes such as:
- Automatically applying the highest-possible security settings to children’s accounts
- Presenting terms and conditions and other content in a language that children will understand
Facebook has also introduced ‘Messenger Kids’ for preteens. The creation of this app acknowledges that there are under-13s on their site but offers them a secure and safe space for them to communicate.
What do new age-appropriate platform designs mean for UK businesses?
These changes will eventually affect the way you present and distribute content as well as how you collect data; even if children are not your target market.
It will require you to write in a much more approachable language. 13-year-olds should be able to understand it easily.
However, this isn’t a bad thing; the easier your content is to read, the more people who will engage with it and move on to the next steps.
Stick to the best practice for social media; be nice, clear and honest and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
These channels might start using more safeguarding procedures that may affect your account or upload process but shouldn’t interfere with your daily social media marketing activities.
UK businesses really just need a common-sense approach to a child-aware social media platform. Know that children might see your content, consider whether it’s appropriate, and make changes accordingly.
Things might be a little more complex for companies whose products concern children, but if you follow the guidelines put forward by the Government, you’ll be able to function normally within the new age-appropriate platform designs.
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