Facebook for under-13s?:

Katherine Stuart writes: Re. “Facebook for under-13s? Who’s kidding whom here?” (yesterday, item 14). Couldn’t agree more with Stilgherrian:

“…that Facebook’s entire business model is about you revealing as much personal information as possible, which they can turn into a product for advertisers. They try to get you to open up your privacy settings using what I consider to be unethical tricks.”

Clearly why the age limit: is this just some form of cynical legal protection? Because who are they kidding? My two stepdaughters aged 9 and 11 respectively listed themselves easily as born in 1994 and (gasp!) 1981 in order to start their own Facebook accounts (not on my watch). My partner and I have toyed with the idea of getting them to delete their accounts. But since all their underage friends and many family members (some with equally spurious birth years) are on Facebook, how could we?

So the advertising they get thrust at them really is a concern — on two counts. Given the age Facebook supposes her to be, I discovered that the 11-year old had been consulting an online clairvoyant or astrologer whose ad she had clicked on, and who, to be fair, must have at least initially thought she was dealing with a 30 year old woman (with a credit card).

Or does Facebook have a second line of attack: the “games” you can play such as It Girl (an online version of the old paper dress-up dolls game —  aiming at WHAT age group??), which get them to share their personal details and provide more accurate information about just how old the target really is.

Facebook must surely be aware it’s got underage members and appears happy to use the most basic of dirty tricks — candy — to get its kid members to reveal just how old they really are. We’ve told them never to click on any ads. But how can you tell kids not to play games?

Can Rundle stick to Essex jokes?

Glen Frost writes: Re. “Rundle: the frightening automation of Planet Manchester” (yesterday, item 5). I like Guy Rundle’s jokes on Essex. I don’t think economics is his calling though.

The Economist estimated there is GBP40 billion in uncollected tax per year in the UK. Tax avoidance (and evasion) is not just a UK thing. If Rundle stood at the Belgium or German borders he’d regularly see wealthy industrialists driving their cars for a regular quick trip to Lichtenstein or Monaco. They’re not going for the sunshine if you get my drift.

Part of Europe’s and UK’s problem is, and has been, an inability to collect the taxes. This is exacerbated with service based businesses; therefore UK has a greater problem than Australia. However UK does put some effort into tax collection compared to some of those Mediterranean slackers, Greece, Portugal and Italy. Don’t get me started on the Greeks. Oh, alright then. Sadly for the Greeks, their two most famous industries easily avoid tax. Shipping has an easy way of avoiding taxation; simply float off to Panama. Tourism used to be largely cash, not so much now, but was 100% cash when I went there in the 1980s.

Second, if the UK “factory workers” need manual type jobs because they’ve had a sub standard state education leaving them ill qualified to do anything else, what are they to do? The mines shut in the 1980’s, and now it’s retail’s turn to bleed workers, what next? The UK has the solution; it’s called the Green Tech boom; thousands of worker bees are required to look after wind turbines and all the other tech that will generate the electricity to power the economy.

Rundle should stop reading Marx and start reading The Financial Times.


Michael R. James writes:  Re. “Rundle: in the face of blinding hypocrisy, the apocalypse goes on” (Tuesday, item 3). Rapture you can believe in (unless you’re Tony Abbott): Prof. Camping simply got the dates wrong by a matter of weeks. It will be on 1st July when Steve Fielding ascends out of the Senate to some higher place, and Saint Bob takes control. Rapture, indeed.


Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Keane: there’s no stopping Karl, competence or not” (yesterday, item 2). For the second time this week Bernard Keane describes Labor as a party “in decline”.

In terms of electoral success, he shouldn’t forget that up till three years ago the highest ranking Liberal was the Brisbane Lord Mayor. Since then, the senility of state Labor governments has coincided with the stumbles of an infantile Labor government in Canberra. And that’s all it is: a coincidence.

If, on the other hand, Keane was talking in terms of principle, he should probably stick to fiction.


Lucy Sussex writes: The Australian government’s dependence on gambling revenue is equivalent to them dealing in heroin. What, make the economy strong from others’ addiction and misery? Gambling destroys lives — and is perhaps the hardest addiction to kick.

Peter Fray

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