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Under-18s face 'like' and 'streaks' bans on social media (www.bbc.co.uk)
105 points by dustinmoris 8 days ago | hide | past | web | 113 comments | favorite





+1 for taming the addictive nature of social media.

-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.


Also, the notion that dark UI patterns are exploitative of teenagers but acceptable for adults is ridiculous. Plenty of adults are just as (if not more-so) vulnerable to these things than kids.

The same holds true for e.g. smoking. The idea is to prevent exposure to the still developing brain (psuedo-arbitrarily defined as under 18), and that exposure after this age is purely an informed descision by a consenting adult. Should legislation require that __all__ exploitative mechanisms be banned forever?

I don’t think that any business that makes money by taking advantage of people’s foolishness or stupidity has any particular moral right to be free from regulation. Caveat emptor and all that, but if you cause enough damage to enough people, it stops being an individual’s problem and starts being society’s problem. We’re 100% there with social media.

> I don’t think that any business that makes money by taking advantage of people’s foolishness or stupidity

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.


Not a parent poster, but I think main point still holds. Maybe I would state it differently.

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.


That's not a fair comparison because some people want to smoke. No one wants to be the victim of dark UI patterns. No one wants "share all my data by default please." No one wants to click on a deceptive ad that looks like the download button.

They want to smoke, but most do not want cancer, emphysema or to have there house burn down because there adulterated cigarette has been manufactured knowingly in a way that increases those risks.

Many users "want" the "streak" features as a way to signalling their commitment to their social relationship with another individual, which is the feature this article is about.

No, what they want is the dopamine rush they get from it. Something it seems they were trained to like, similar to lab rats.

Yes.

See? Ask an easy question, get an easy answer.


Guess HN needs to banned then. Their news feed is designed to exploit my need for novelty and it works. I'm here far more than I should be. I guess I should expect the government to regulate HN to save me from it's exploitative patterns

I don't see it to be honest. The website is plain and simple, downvotes are capped, the scores are not visible. I spent significantly less time here than on other forms of social media, and I never feel glued to the website.

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.


noprocrast is a nice setting

I agree, but good luck defining it. You will also get the hordes of people defending their right to be exploited.

This will only be a temporary issue which will disappear with the generation which will resist the most. Most behavioural changes and changes to the norm just need to wait until the first generation dies out and to all subsequent generations this will be the only norm they ever knew. A great example is smoking in public places in Europe. The people who think this restricts their freedom is slowly disappearing. Most young people and new generations find it normal that smoking in public places is prohibited and they would resist if someone was to try to change that now.

How would you implement that? What defines exploitative behavior?

An easy wrong answer.

The only sane arguments against banning tobacco entirely are related to organized crime. I assert that there is no risk of cartels re-implementing the dark patterns of facebook.

This libertarian rhetorical meme of reducing every instance of proposed regulation to ineffectual drug wars needs to die.


> Also, the notion that dark UI patterns are exploitative of teenagers but acceptable for adults is ridiculous.

That's not what the ICO is saying though, they're just saying that there are more restrictions if you're dealing with kids.


-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

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.


I told the truth in Pokemon Go and now I can't battle or befriend or send gifts to my under-13 daughter :(

now all the creeps will have to lie and pretend to be under-13 when they want to befriend or send gifts to your daughter :(

Gating content based on age isn't really about preventing access to it. Gating content (on most any basis) is more about blame-deflecting and CYA: make sure you're not the one to be fingered as the responsible party when the "they should have done something!" hysteria hits.

Which is stupid.

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.


What you are saying is essentially that all restrictions based on age are invalid because some people will manage to circumvent those rules.

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.


> We have significant, long term, data that age restrictions reduced the use of alcohol and tobacco.

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.


thats his entire point

Do you realize that you are asking for mandatory proof of identity with government issued ID for every social platform?

Because that's the only way to make this happen.


I'm simply stating that it is indeed possible to restrict online content based on age. When you buy alcohol or pornography at a store, you are required to show identification. I'm not sure why that is suddenly a terrible thing to do when that service is provided over the internet.

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 costs are different in the internet. At a bar, a human looks at your ID, then gives it back to you. On the internet, there's no way your ID doesn't get recorded in a log somewhere, in a central store where all ID checks you ever do get recorded.

Irl i had access to porn and alcohol without any ID. kids are smart.

> CONCLUSIONS: The preponderance of evidence indicates there is an inverse relationship between the MLDA[minimum legal drinking age] and two outcome measures: alcohol consumption and traffic crashes. [1]

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12022726


Not sure what country you live in, but in the US only someone who gave or sold the alcohol/tobacco to a minor would get in trouble.

Correct, but in the case of a website or a phone application, the producer of the application or website is also the provider. There is no reason why a pornography site could not be held criminally responsible for distributing pornography to minors.

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.


And yet, kids still drink and smoke. Yes, age restrictions are foolish and invalid, century of public policy notwithstanding. Not every policy that has existed should continue to exist.

> CONCLUSIONS: The preponderance of evidence indicates there is an inverse relationship between the MLDA[minimum legal drinking age] and two outcome measures: alcohol consumption and traffic crashes. [1]

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12022726


Some kids still drink and smoke, but far far fewer than once did. At least some of that is related to age restriction.

It does not matter whether kids can circumvent the restrictions. This is all about providing future legal action banning persuasive techniques used on children.

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?


So true. I was surprised to learn that kids are using the "commenting" feature in Google Docs to message each other in class in a way that they don't get caught using their phones. This laws can't have teeth unless they're specific and people will just invent new things and paths don't violate the law. If parents are worried, they should worry more about their own kids and parenting them the way they'd like.

I think getting around things like age restrictions and parent supervision is an important experience growing up, but I'm afraid kids these days are less adept with computers than their parents and won't be able to.

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.


> believes her parents can see her history even if she erases it

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.


They aren't. She thinks they must have installed something in the computer.

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.


> Gating content based on age does. not. work. Source: every teenage kid ever.

Do you mean to suggest that you too knew kids who falsely clicked "over 18" when visiting pornographic websites?


Also, these kinds of ultra-detailed technocratic rules tend to be bureaucratic disasters. The UK government is now going to be going feature-by-feature of every social media system and deciding whether it should be age-gated?

These measures are being proposed because by law in the UK, under 18s cannot have their data used for commercial targetting.

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.


I don't agree with that statement for "every teenage kid ever". Most kids appreciate separation from adult attention and accompanying concerns, responsibilities, passions, conflicts...

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.


Some of this is definitely good. Requiring companies to use plain and truthful language when describing privacy-affecting settings is a great step, and apps/services shouldn't try to hide the "continue without enabling" button.

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!"


I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. Until about a year ago I myself was one of the under 18’s and although I myself have never had a “streak” or used social media much in general I do have some experience with these kind of things because I see my friends and peers partake in these kind of things. What I mostly see is that the upkeep of a streak consists of sending a black photo with some text on it like “goodnight” and then it being sent to dozens of people. Not much comes from it other than maintaining a streak.

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'm definitely guilty of the blank picture solely for streaks. For me, the value comes from a feeling of connection when keeping a streak, mostly with friends I barely ever see. There are people that I've only really met once at events etc., but we have remained acquaintances through these 'substanceless' conversations over Snapchat. If I ever travel and end up near these friends I wouldn't hesitate to message them to hang out, where as if we never started a streak I'd most likely never see them again.

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.


Do they really encourage social interaction? From what I can tell, they're pretty much just an addictive feature.

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.


>> plain and truthful language

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".


I would argue they explicitly stop real social interaction. People like a thing and then move on. How is that useful discourse?

Without a like mechanism, people would have to genuinely interact by adding to the conversation in order to be a part of it.


Interesting white-hat application of behavioral economics. It's no surprise this is happening in UK.

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.


Much of that seems reasonable but wouldn't this:

>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.


I don't see a good reason why anonymity should be a good default for social networks in particular. It's quite literally in the name, the primary function is social interaction.

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.


So, you provide your ID to everyone you have a social interaction with?

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.


>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?

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.


Well it is "for the children" so that is a given.

Sad to think that the Internet is becoming increasingly censored by many governments.

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.


That's always been the case, right? Freedom of speech, EXCEPT when it directly negatively affects the person due to reputation or fear.

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.


Despite many posts criticising the recommendations, the ICO _doesn't recommend age verification_ as a solution.

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.


Less bad then expected then, although adding a get-out-of-consumer-protection-free clause for sites that commit age discrimination isn't all that much of a improvement.

There's no such thing, just stricter requirements for how you treat children. There are absolutely still requirements for how you treat adults.

What are people's expectations of the effectiveness and the iatrogenics of this policy?

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


I expect it to be completely worthless for the nominal purpose.

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.


I think compared to the war on drugs, this would be incredibly effective.

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.


But while spirits became a larger share of alcohol consumed, "per capita annual consumption [immediately after the repeal of prohibition] stood at 1.2 US gallons (4.5 liters), less than half the level of the pre-Prohibition period". Likewise, "[d]eath rates from cirrhosis and alcoholism, alcoholic psychosis hospital admissions, and drunkenness arrests all declined steeply". In short, prohibition worked as a public health policy.

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.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470475/


>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?


> We haven't seen the nicotine equivalent of fentanyl your "risk ladder" model predicts.

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.


You're ignoring the time period it all took place. Irresponsible drinking probably skyrocketed during the Gilded Age and Great Depression. It should be no surprise that people stopped drinking so much when everything started getting better - which aligned closely with the end of prohibition.

It's interesting to understand what is happening internally in these social media companies engaging in blatantly shady and unethical behavior.

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.


In my opinion this would be best applied to everyone not just the under 18s. That would go a long way to taking some of the addictive behaviours out of social media.

Probably not a popular opinion though, either with the users, or with the companies that run the social media platforms.


It's what the ICO suggests too.

Anyone else feel like tech workers are now bucketed in “just show me the money” and “oh my god what have I enabled” groups?

Any recommended legal social networks for a 12.5 year old? What are the legal hurdles for starting one with no advertising, or unnecessary tracking? (Dublin Ireland). Too retro to go IRC?

How do you stop this? It will just encourage then to create fake accounts .

Well the article says: To ensure its success, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) says that online services must also adopt "robust" age-verification systems.

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.


Credit cards aren't really used for age verification purposes in the UK so I'm not sure why it would be accepted for this.

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.


Oh I agree it’s a terrible way to do it. I live in the US where it’s used a lot for age verification.

Didn’t realize it wasn’t more universal. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.


It's terrible.

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.


Good spot - this reeks of the same issue that the anti-porn bill [0] has, going straight for the "please, think of the children" approach.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/mar/16/uk-online-po...


Not sure about the UK, but in the US you can get a bank account and debit card when your parents co-sign as early as age 14 (Bank of America). Is age something merchants get back from Visa/MC when you make a transaction?

Banks will often have multiple BIN's[1] assigned to them. When I was last in the industry ~10 years ago, it was typical to use the BIN to identify specific types of card within an institution, so it wasn't uncommon to see a single institution with multiple BINs.

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.

[1] 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...


I don't think the age verification systems used online will accept a debit card though and I don't think you can get a real credit card under 18 even with a parent authorizing or co-signing.

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.


The merchant can definitely see whether a card is a debit card or a credit card. The charge structure and chargeback rules are different. A debit card is to spend money you already own, hence why a 14 year old or younger can have one. A credit card creates a debt - and in the UK debts incurred below the age of 18 are unenforceable in court. So no one will issue a credit card to a person under 18.

Everyone will just sneak their parents' cards. I know I would have.

Or they can just ask? I would have no trouble helping my son work around dumb rules. "Here's another one of those situations where lying is appropriate. I hope you're learning to be a good judge of when it is and isn't. Yes, adults are pretty stupid sometimes."

As his guardian you limit your son's ability to legally retaliate in the future against possible coercive actions offered by said corporations, with its sole intention to form an addictive dependency to its users.

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?


No one said being a parent is easy, but taking responsibility for these types of decisions is part of the job.

This is how I was raised, and exactly what I would do if I were a parent.

At least one of the age verification services being tested just validates the card number is formatted correctly (Twitter users have found out of date cards work very well). No need to sneak the cards when you can just google one tbh.

I would say the best compromise would be something along the lines of having to send them government ID (which brings up a whole other ball of wax with privacy/data retention issues) - most teenagers might get a drivers license at 15-16 which I would subjectively say is close enough to adulthood to avoid these literal popularity contests online.

Just ban the internet already England. You're 75% there already.

The number of 18 year olds in the UK is about to skyrocket.

Tangent Rant - Mobile back button is completely non-functional.


I thought the back button was one of those intermediate-page-with-a-redirect situations, but even a quick double tap of the back button does absolutely nothing. How is this even possible?

What would be the best way to capitalize from a personal investment standpoint in what I can only imagine will be massive growth in VPN usage? The EU and UK are going to end up cutting off large swaths of the internet from their population but I have no doubt people will still want unfettered internet access.

Are there any publicly traded VPN providers?


Don't view any such purchase as a long term investment. It probably won't be long before the UK government demands that ISPs block all VPN usage. It looks increasingly likely that many western countries will soon be taking a Chinese-style approach towards the internet. There's always some small benefit to restricting liberty, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

> It looks increasingly likely that many western countries will soon be taking a Chinese-style approach towards the internet.

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.


Predictions are typically made by looking at recent trends and then extrapolating from there. It would take some time, but I could provide you with a bunch of links to reputable news sources on this subject. Instead, to save time, let's go with a one page summary of the new internet censorship that is being proposed (or is already taking place) in some western countries in just the past month:

https://www.citizensagainstidiocracy.com/93/internet-censors...


I'd say your best bet is probably waiting for CloudFlare to IPO. They're teasing a 1.1.1.1 branded VPN just recently.

CloudFlare were extremely vague about where the end points of their VPN service would occur though. They said it "wasn't intended for circumventing geofiltering", which is fair enough, but that suggests it would have end points in your own country. In which case it's unlikely to be helpful against the UK's increasingly insane, authoritarian government.

Note that the Cloudflare 1^4 'Warp' VPN won't be a "get around country blocks" VPN.

Thank you, exactly what I was looking for!

> Are there any publicly traded VPN providers?

McAfee bought TunnelBear


Sure, but...McAfee.



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