The feedback from Google’s launch of Google+ has for the most part been very positive. Google may finally have a true competitor to Facebook with Buzz and Wave clearly being experimental, flawed trial runs for this latest real attempt at a social network.
But Google+ isn’t perfect, and there is a problem with using it if you are under the age of 13. Facebook doesn’t allow you to have an account if you are younger than 13, but in that case you are just locked out of Facebook completely. Google on the other hand, has the same 13+ rule, but has multiple services it offers through a login. The problem is, the sign-up procedure is different depending on which service you sign up with first.
With a service like YouTube, a date of birth is required at sign-up, so anyone under 13 cannot get an account. But with a Gmail sign up you instead just agree to the Terms of Service which do state you need to be of the required age, but doesn’t check that age at account creation. That means someone under the age of 13 can create a Google account not realizing they are too young to do so.
As an example of this, a 10-year-old named Alex already uses Google for Google Chat and Gmail for keeping in touch with his family, and has done so for two years. This isn’t allowed by Google, but because they didn’t check his age at sign-up he was allowed through. Then Google+ appeared and required a date of birth through a Google Profile. Alex supplied this, a Terms of Service breach was flagged, and now he has been locked out of his Google Account completely.
This has clearly upset Alex and has also shown another failing of Google. It has no real-person support to deal with this issue, and Alex has no way to get those two years of emails and chat logs back. Unless he can prove he is 13 or older within the next 30 days his account will be terminated.
Read more at Legends of the Sun Pig