Snapchat admits age verification failures to MPs
Executives at Snapchat have been grilled by MPs over the company's system to verify the age of its users and ensure they're over 13.
One MP told the company that he had been able to sign up for the app after telling it he was just 12 years old; when the system told him he must be older, he was simply able to change the age he gave.
During a hearing before a parliamentary committee, the company's representatives accepted its age verification systems when users signed up for the platform weren't robust enough.
Its senior director for public policy, Stephen Collins, and its director of creative strategy, Will Scougal, said that Snapchat did not want underage users on its platform.
They stressed that there was no commercial advantage to having children under the age of 13 on the app.
They said they do have methods to check if users are underage at sign-up, mainly by tracking cookies in web browsers, but that these don't work when people sign up for the app instead of creating their account using the web.
Mr Collins added that Snapchat did analyse its users' behaviour to identify whether underage users had got past its rules, but admitted there wasn't a "foolproof way" to prevent this from happening.
European Data Protection Board – Eleventh Plenary session: Guidelines on Codes of Conduct, annex to the Guidelines on Accreditation, annex to the Guidelines on Certification