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Meta is lowering the minimum age for the Quest to 10 years old


Government scrutiny of how tech companies treat their underage users continues to increase. A deluge of bills in Congress on the subject seeks to bolster the power of regulators and even completely ban children under 13 from social media.

Enter Meta, which is lowering the minimum age for its Quest headsets from 13 to 10. After learning of the plan and reaching out to Meta for comment this week, spokesman Joe Osborne said confirmed it and shared a blog post about the news that the company plans to publish soon. It says that parents must approve the creation of a child account and that Meta will only recommend apps that have been rated safe for that age group. Ads are also not shown to children.

Perhaps most importantly, the meta profile and avatar of a 10- to 12-year-old who uses the Quest for all sorts of apps defaults to private, “meaning people can’t follow young teens without their or their permission from parents.” Meta’s blog post says only parents can disable this safety feature. And Horizon worldsthe legless open-world social platform for the Quest, remains an experience for 13+, at least for now.

It’s easy to see why Meta does this. The company knows kids want to use VR headsets, and it’s better to give them a more limited experience than just have them lie about their age. If I had to guess, Meta also wants to get ahead of any lawsuits or fines, such as the $520 million recently imposed against Epic Games by the FTC. In that case, the agency found that “Epic was aware that many children were playing Fortnite‘, what, duh. At least now Meta can say it offers a minors option with strict parental controls.

Even if this is a good move by Meta, knowing it’s a touchy subject is likely to result in more angry Senate letters. The company did its best to keep the plan, code-named “Project Salsa” from leaking internally (spicy, I think?). It required affected employees to sign a separate legal disclosure and mark documents as “A/C privilege” should the FTC still come knocking.

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