It has recently come to my attention that a certain user is posting what at first appears to be a “notification” to reported underage users that they are in violation of the site rules by posting information that they are under 13. This “notification” is carefully worded so as to at first appear “official”, but its apparent intent and observed effect is to warn the user that their account is up for review and to allow them the chance to purge their posts of the reference to their age, as has already occurred with at least one reported user who is 11 years old.
Here is one “notification”, made as a comment to and copy/pasted directly from the post thread of a user who is 12 and a half:
Users under 13 are against the law. Plain and simple. It doesn’t matter if their content is of high quality – it is against the law.
A 12 year old might be able to drive really well and might have been driving on his family’s property since he was big enough to reach the steering wheel, but we still don’t give him a license no matter how well he drives. Same rule applies here.
Users who “sneak” onto 43 Things and are below 13 cannot, of course, be detected until they post their age, sort of like the 12 year old driver making his way down the road carefully. As long as he does nothing wrong and drives well it is likely he will not attract the attention of the authorities. But if he drives down the street wildly, yelling out his age and acting like the child he is, then he will be pulled over and taken out of the car. The police are doing nothing wrong by doing so.
Underage users who flaunt their age are in violation of the law, pure and simple. There are legal remedies that this site could take to grant them legal access, but for whatever reason the site owners choose not to do so. That is their right. Warning underage users so that they alter their information to “come into compliance” is wrong. It is creating a false situation where the child is now lying about their age in order to maintain their account which puts this website at risk.
A great majority of those that I report for this infraction are on the “fantasy goals”, that’s true. But considering that I have seen some dangerous behavior on those “goals” it is for the best if those users are removed until they are of legal age. For instance, a recent situation involved one user posting a “spell” to “turn into a mermaid” that called for “blood from both legs”, implying of course that the would-be mermaid would need to cause injury to themselves in some fashion to procure this blood. As a Nurse I can tell you that children and teenagers do not, as a general matter of course, have the knowledge or training to bloodlet in any manner without running the risk of acquiring an infection or possibly cutting into a major blood vessel. Another “spell” involved the consumption of an undefined amount of water in as short a time as possible. Without knowing the variables such as individual weight, BMI, heart function, kidney function, size of the water bottles, etc. there is a real risk of water intoxication with this “spell”.
Other users constantly trawl the “goals” looking to be “turned” by the “real monsters”. This activity, while harmless in and of itself, does run the risk of attracting the wrong type of attention, such as pedophiles, rapists, serial murderers, and slave traffickers. Don’t think that danger is real? Watch Dateline: Predators to see how real that danger is. I have already warned away one 50+ man for posting to a board filled with minors that he “wants a vampire lover”. While that post could be innocuous, it “raised my hackles” enough to let him know that I was monitoring his posts from that point on. He stopped posting to that goal.
Underage users run the real risk (as do the others) of getting injured or even killed by some of the “posts” and “advice” on these goals (water intoxication can be deadly, and in a very short time), but the difference is the liability issues for the site if it can be proven in the case of a lawsuit that the site knew the user was underage and still allowed the account to remain active.
The idea that we should all “work on our own goals” and pay no attention to what others are doing is to ask the shepherds to put on blindfolds and take down the pasture fences while there are wolves roaming the hills.
Warning these users so as to allow them to change their information and remain active is an incredibly selfish behavior, putting the entire site at risk should something bad happen. The law is the law. Underage users need to be reported so as to allow their account to be closed, regardless of parental knowledge of their activities. Joe Goldberg makes that quite clear on the Neighborhood Watch discussion forums, stating that 43 Things has a “zero tolerance” for underage users. 22 months ago