-1000 for trying to do this with age-based restrictions. Kids will get around it. Kids SHOULD get around it. Gating content based on age does. not. work. Source: every teenage kid ever.
I think this is a touch unfair to people at large. The common end user isn't keen enough to recognize dark patterns, that's true, but that's akin to saying that the average car buyer should be able to spot flaws in a vehicle that could cause them harm. We don't expect that from people; Car companies are mandated to only sell vehicles that meet safety requirements. And even then, it's generally accepted that when you're buying a used vehicle, you take it to a mechanic you trust to make sure it's well cared for and operational. Same as when you buy a home; you're expected to have it inspected.
It's also unfair, I think, to put people down as foolish or stupid for not immediately recognizing things that are psychological tricks companies use in marketing, to steer users towards the options they want the users to choose. I mean caveat emptor indeed, but to say that, for example fast food marketers holding PHD's in psychological studies, working day in and out to get people to be hungry anytime they see a McDonalds logo are on an even playing field with Joe Consumer is a laughable assertion on it's face.
In the days of yore, marketing was just trying to sell someone something but it's become much more insidious since those innocent times. Now companies use dark patterns in their applications, purposely bury privacy and security options under layers of confusing UI, use all manor of colors and fonts shown to steer people's attention to the goal they want, on and on. This is why I find it so unethical, it feels a hell of a lot less like marketing and lot more like "hacking" a person's brain to get into their wallet.
tl:dr; Joe Consumer is playing checkers, and marketing scientists are playing 3D chess. He doesn't stand a chance and everyone just keeps acting like that's okay.
Even if you say 'taking advantage of limited cognitive ability of people' which is true, because everyone is busy, having life problems and is bombarded with all that crap. It makes people stupid, and that is not something to say about particular person.
So second part is about making damage while taking advantage of that created stupidity, which is the same as thieves taking advantage of someone after 12 hour trip. People get tired and do stupid things like not watching their luggage. That is the same as taking advantage of online tiredness, it is also foolishness.
Marketing with McDonalds does not make people hungry, that is of course not the way it works. But when people are hungry and see McDonalds logo, they don't think about alternatives but just go for that option. I fell for that multiple times, when I am tired, I am not going to search for some small restaurant that can have better food. It can turn out that there is one, but food is total crap, so I am not taking chances but going for McD. Getting me tired and hungry to pay them money is taking advantage of my temporary stupidity and foolishness. They have scale and are everywhere so it might look innocent.
See? Ask an easy question, get an easy answer.
What part of the HN design appears to you exploitative? It's much more like an old school web forum than a gamified social website.
This libertarian rhetorical meme of reducing every instance of proposed regulation to ineffectual drug wars needs to die.
That's not what the ICO is saying though, they're just saying that there are more restrictions if you're dealing with kids.
My 12 year old son was helping his 10 year cousin set up Pokemon Go and he told him to just put anything in the year until it works.
Heck when I was 8 my 10 year old friend and I used to guess the leisure suit larry questions.
There is really no way to fix this, without creating some kind of goverment id system tied to biometrics, followed by the plot of any dystopian scifi.
If something is for adults only, require payment or something. Afaik, you can't get a debit or credit card under 18 without parental approval, so this should lie firmly on the shoulders of parents. However, parents don't like getting blamed for being bad parents.
If my child gets access to adult only stuff, that's my fault.
We have significant, long term, data that age restrictions reduced the use of alcohol and tobacco.
What has changed, in the modern era of internet age restrictions, is that the enforcement of age restrictions online has been reduced.
For example, online pornography has massive numbers of users under 18, but there has been little enforcement by law enforcement agencies.
The solution is quite simple. If a person under the age of 18 is in possession of an application that is prohibited for minors and the company that creates that application fails to verify their age, then the company should face criminal charges, just like we do with tobacco and alcohol.
To say that age restrictions do not work is to ignore almost a century of public policy.
Asking for a user's age and giving a dropdown that lets the user select any age they like is in no way comparable to checking an actual government-issued ID.
Because that's the only way to make this happen.
With regards to social platforms, I think we need to consider the health of people under 18, just like we do in the real world. If we indeed decide as a democracy, that certain types of social media content are significantly harmful to children, then I think it is our responsibility as adults to impose certain things upon ourselves that may be uncomfortable.
I have gone to the beach and realized that I had left my wallet(and ID) in the car and was unable to purchase alcohol or be let into a bar. We as a democracy have decided that is a reasonable price to pay for protecting children from alcohol abuse.
If age verification were required to access online content, plenty of online services would be available as a third party to verify your age without requiring you to show every website and application your government ID. For example Apple might verify your age and relay that to a website. Or possibly your credit card company or some other new company which provided that service. PayPal for age verification.
I should qualify that I'm not sure we should impose these age restrictions on social platforms, I'm am instead commenting on the feasiblility of such an action.
The way we enforce this with alcohol and tobacco is that law enforcement runs a test were they attempt to purchase alcohol or tobacco from a store with a minor. Law enforcement can run a similar process where they attempt to access pornography(or other age restricted content) and if the site or application fails to restrict usage, apply crimial charges.
There is certainly public debate as to if we should use age restrictions on certain features of Facebook, but to say that enforcement is impossible, seems to contradict the data we have with other age restrictions.
Now: sue tobacco companies coercing children using targeted advertisings.
Future: sue social media companies coercing children using persuasive techniques.
Question is: could insufficient age restriction methods hold companies liable?
I know one 14yo who complains about not being able to see restricted content on youtube and also believes her parents can see her history even if she erases it.
Just because you were able to do it when you were a kid, doesn't mean other kids will be able to. You're posting on HN with a "linuxasheviller" handle, that makes you an outlier.
she's not necessarily wrong if her parents are tech savvy. many routers can save recent web history if you enable it.
she could use a VPN of course.
To be clear, I didn't mean to imply she's wrong. She may have good reason to believe that, but I haven't inquired further, just offered to teach her to install Linux.
Do you mean to suggest that you too knew kids who falsely clicked "over 18" when visiting pornographic websites?
The obvious solution is for the companies to ensure that under 18s data isn't used this way. I will certainly start signing up to all services as a 16 year old.
When a boundary is set at 18, its true that many youths approaching that age will look with great interest beyond it. But child friendly networks are important and valuable to children, while they can be children.
With that said, requiring different rules for children seriously increases barriers to entry for new services hoping to attract users in areas where these rules take effect, and kids will ALWAYS find ways around it. Nudges like snap streaks and the Like button encourage daily active use, but they also encourage actual social interaction between people to some degree.
Additionally, nudges like the Like button or Snapstreaks, though they do encourage a potentially unhealthy relationship with technology, also encourage social interaction with peers. It's certainly more complicated than "these are bad!"
So not a lot of social interraction in that case, more so a reward for substanceless and ultimately unrewarding behaviour. Even more so, I saw my peers getting distracted from actual social interaction IRL by these kind of things.
I don’t think social interaction has anything to do with things like streaks or other addictive nudges. I think the most that is needed for social interaction is a chat client (or voice for that matter) and the ability to send photo’s or use a webcam. It shouldn’t be more than that. Other things often get in the way of real social interaction be it online or offline.
I've never liked keeping in touch with people over the internet, but 'streaks' lets me do it with dozens of people without sinking in hours of my time for conversation.
If you want to encourage social interaction, promote less popular content. If you promote more popular content, then it becomes a popularity contest. Services want more eyeballs on their platform, so there's no way they'd promote less popular content because people will switch to a platform that gives them the reward for being popular.
It always ends up with "we do something to make your experiences better", to "help us continually protect and improve your experience", etc.
I'll be rather explaining along the lines "we're a corporation, we have shares to sustain and employees to pay, so we're going to milk you and your personal information for our sole benefit. You have to know that it will be better for you if you don't make it easy for us to do so".
Without a like mechanism, people would have to genuinely interact by adding to the conversation in order to be a part of it.
Based on Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler's book "Nudge," the UK set up a behavioral economics team charged with helping British subjects interact with their government. They had some notable successes. That's now called The Behavioural Insights Team. https://www.bi.team/ It's possible their national experience led them to adopt new rules against black-hat UX (tiny gray opt-out buttons, etc.)
User experience standards based on behavioral economics principles might be a very productive route to improving social media. It's CERTAINLY worth a try.
>To ensure its success, the ICO added that online services must also adopt "robust" age-verification systems.
Imply that ID of some kind would be required to use certain features of different sites?
It seems like this part in particular is another attack on internet anonymity.
The idea that anonymity should be guaranteed on every website, in every context without justification needs to be argued for, it's not self evident.
For example, there's someone I've known for about two years and talk to regularly, we know a fair bit about eachother's lives. I was thinking the other day though and realized, we've never introduced ourselves to to eachother. We've never actually told eachother our names, yet every time we see eachother we talk like old friends.
Or there's plenty of parties where i've socially interacted with people without ever knowing or giving a name.
For the most part, at least partial anonymity is up to the choice of the participants for in person social interaction, why should the internet be different?
It's not like most privately owned public spaces require ID for you to talk to people inside of them. Bars and such I guess being an exception, but that's because they serve liquor and some bars depending on where you are or what event will actually still allow minors in without serving them, so they could technically interact. My first concert was at an all ages show in a bar as a teenager.
the internet isn't different. But Facebook isn't 'the internet', Facebook is a commercial public platform. I fully expect to not be anonymous when I engage with any commercial platform,be it online or offline, the only places where I expect full anonymity are places I own, where no liability or implications for third parties exist.
You can have those on the internet, but they're not commercial, centralised social media websites where people, with their posts, face the public. Facebook in this example is exactly like a bar or a townsquare, and not like my private home.
Maybe the Unabomber was right ,and you can't have technology and freedom at the same time. People just don't like freedom when it affects them negatively or benefits someone other than themselves.
Freedom to protest, as long as it isn't interfering with certain government functions and you aren't messing with the police.
I think as a society, it's our job to figure out the best balance of freedom and security. People are all up and down the spectrum, so you'll never make everyone happy anyway.
From the actual document:
> 2. Age-appropriate application: Consider the age range of your audience
and the needs of children of different ages. Apply the standards in this
code to all users, unless you have robust age-verification mechanisms to
distinguish adults from children.
The commissioner is saying that the companies should make the sites adhere to the rules covering children, with a get out IF some new age verification system could be developed.
Before alcohol prohibition in the United States, most alcohol consumption was low-proof/ABV drinks (such as beers). The introduction of prohibition attenuated some demand for alcohol but created a black market for those still wishing to consume. Black-market suppliers shifted alcohol production to higher ABV/proof alcohols to mitigate risks and increase profits. The results was increased consumption in spirits and other more damaging alcohols.
The same phenomenon occurred during the US's 1970s "War on Drugs" milder drugs such as cannabis were outlawed, suppliers shift to more profitable and potent drugs, consumer preferences change, more addictive and damaging drugs are consumed (e.g. Fentanyl).
Social-media moralizers "save the children" with prohibitions -> marginal demand is attenuated but persists -> satisfaction is attained through less preferable way to the individual.
Humans are risk averse given relative options. Given the choice they will opt for the least damaging vice satisfier. Denied that option, preference shifts up the risk ladder. I don't think social media is healthy or advisable without moderation but the "solutions" will cause more harm than if left alone.
A treatment that's beneficial on the individual level is all but guaranteed to be detrimental on the aggregate: "The country's average mass is overweight! Everyone is now mandated to skip one meal a day until we are at an acceptable weight" kills malnourished people
As for backfiring teens already prefer "not used by their parents" social media. I would expect moving on to less lawful platforms - at least when it comes to the UK.
Social media is all about network effects - the more your friends are on social media, the more you want (/need) to be on it to keep up with them.
Putting up a barrier won't stop _everyone_ from accessing the sites, but I feel like it will easily stop _enough_ that the network effect deteriorates and so it's not worth circumventing anyways.
You can't just point out that something will cause unintended consequences. You have to actually weight them against the benefits the policy provides. Obviously fewer potheads for more heroin addicts was a bade trade, but fewer cigarette smokers for a slightly larger black market has proven to be a great one. We haven't seen the nicotine equivalent of fentanyl your "risk ladder" model predicts.
> A treatment that's beneficial on the individual level is all but guaranteed to be detrimental on the aggregate: "The country's average mass is overweight! Everyone is now mandated to skip one meal a day until we are at an acceptable weight" kills malnourished people
This Ayn Rand fever dream ignores the fact that the government has tons of policies that are beneficial on the individual level: banning trans fats, mandating nutrition labels, and taxing sodas just to name a few.
Listing the benefits of a policy while neglecting the iatrogenics is precisely my point about the complexity dynamics. Before a treatment, it is unknowable how adding another domain will effect all the other domains.
Take a hypothetical policy of weekly fire-sprinkler checks being instituted. As a result 3% of all systems were nonfunctional but repaired! But this neglects the inspections also caused a chilling effect of people behavior ("Sorry Anne Frank, I can't take you in as a refugee because there's an increased likely hood that the police will find you now that they started doing sprinkler checks")
Would you take a drug without someone certifying it's side effects first? Why do the same with policy?
Only if you're looking at that end of the risk ladder. On the other end are vaping products like Juul that (while not perfect) are far safer than smoking. And, what do you know, there is increasing pressure to ban them as well. In the interest of not going off in the weeds, I won't even approach the deficits of government nutrition policies or soda taxation attempts.
Its more than weird that inspite of HN being a place where many of these individuals are there is little to no discussion on the actual forces and pressures at work driving these decisions, are there ethical dilemmas, difficult decisions? Because there is nearly nothing on this discussion wise or whistle blowers that would suggest this is something people working inside these companies are grappling with.
If this does not concern engineers its unlikely discussion on issues being raised by outsiders and regulatory bodies are going to lead to any kind of productive discussion beyond dilution and denial.
Probably not a popular opinion though, either with the users, or with the companies that run the social media platforms.
My guess is they'll ask for a valid credit card before allowing users to access the interface for likes and such. Which, IMO anyway, means many less people will be liking things in the UK, not just under-18's. Then some clever kid will find a way to get around it and before you know it the only people liking anything will be kids under 18.
Also, "All adults own a credit card" is far from a good assumption in general and credit card ownership is actually in decline in the UK so it would be bizarre to tie credit card ownership into this.
Didn’t realize it wasn’t more universal. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.
It's also the only thing which is possible.
It's the streetlight fallacy, in other words: The drunk doesn't know where those damn car keys have gotten to, but they know that the only place the light's good enough to look is under the streetlight, so the keys must be under the streetlight.
Something like that could be used to filter out such cards, if they were assigned a unique BIN by the bank. As to whether anyone actually _does_ that, I don't know.
 The BIN is the first six digits of your card number. It identifies the originating bank, among other things: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bank-identification-num...
Even though a debit card acts like a credit card under most circumstances where your available balance is effectively your "credit" limit but there are ways of telling the difference between a debit/check card and a real credit card.
It's like buying your son cigarettes. This shifts the responsibility from the supplier to the enabler (you).
Will we in the near future reflect on this digital period, similar to how we now reflect on the era of dominance of cigarette manufacturers?
Tangent Rant - Mobile back button is completely non-functional.
Are there any publicly traded VPN providers?
Could you elaborate on why you'd think this?
I mean, that's a pretty significant prediction, and if it's about a near-term happening based on current observations, that'd be good information to be aware of.
McAfee bought TunnelBear