That would, of course, turn a lot of people off using the network, because it would make them suddenly more accountable for their actions online or, at least, remind them that they are already accountable, a fact that seems to elude a lot of people.
But it's something Facebook ultimately needs to do. Verifying user identities has to happen eventually if the social network wants to survive, let alone serve as an authentication/logon service for other sites. It might also help cut down on all the scams and fake accounts that now riddle the site. At minimum, it could raise the ante and cut out the bottom feeders.
The fact is, as with employees, if kids really want to get on Facebook -- and they do, because all their friends are on there -- they're going to get on Facebook. If not at home, then at a friend's house. If not there, then at the library or a Wi-Fi cafe. And if they have a smartphone in their pocket, then they'll do it everywhere.
It's high time that Facebook address its underage problem instead of pretending it isn't there. Of course what Facebook really wants to do is sell games to kids. This is not a safety issue -- this is a money issue. That's why it will probably happen.
Facebook needs to move fast, before it's no longer cool with kids and they move on to something better. That probably won't happen until Zuckerberg is an old man -- maybe even 30.
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This article, "Facebook takes baby steps toward kids' social network," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.