Always read the fine print

If you haven’t heard about him already, C. J. Pearson has made a name for himself as of lately.  A 12-year-old conservative from here in Georgia, he recently posted a video questioning whether Obama really loves America which went viral.  His one mistake, however, was posting it to Facebook.

See, after his video went viral, Facebook locked his account.  Of course, that kind of action brought out all the accusations of attacks on free speech and people are trying to shut him up because he spoke out against Obama.  None of that has anything to do with reality other than feed the persecution complex that some people have.

In the real world, Mr. Pearson and his parents (or whomever set up the Facebook page) didn’t read the agreement with Facebook.  I don’t have a Facebook page for personal reasons, but I am quite familiar with some of the rules they employ.  In this case, you have to be 13 to have a Facebook page.  No exceptions.  It’s not a Facebook rule, it’s the federal law.

How old do you have to be to sign up for Facebook?

To be eligible to sign up for Facebook, you must be at least 13 years old.

If that explanation doesn’t quite cut it for you and you need further assistance, then there’s this one here.

You know when you go to watch a movie, such as The Parent Trap, or Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone you are greeted with that screen that recommends Parental Guidance for viewers under the age of 13? And then you as a parent use your discretion as to whether your tween is mature enough to watch that movie?

Things are different on Facebook.

When Facebook says users must be over the age of 13, it is a requirement NOT a recommendation. This is because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA).

COPPA is a United States federal law, which aims to give parents control over what information is collected from their children online. It details what a website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent from a parent or guardian, and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children’s privacy and safety online including restrictions on the marketing to those under 13.
Children under 13 can legally give out personal information with their parents’ permission (for example, Club Penguin), however many websites do not allow underage children to use their services simply due to the amount of work involved. Facebook is such a site, requiring all users to be over the age of 13. It has also implemented this age limit worldwide, despite the law being a US one.

I hope Mr. Paterson is really taking in this entire experience as a learning lesson.  Always ensure to check the rules and regulations of any site that you’re using.  Just because you can sign up for Facebook doesn’t mean that you can legally sign up, even with your parent’s permission or assistance.

Also, free speech is not free.  If you’re using someone else’s platform to express your free speech, you are still subject to the rules they set for their platform.  If you don’t like the rules, then set out to find a platform more to your liking or create your own platform.  There are numerous blogging platforms that you can use to share your thoughts and opinions.  There are thousands of us who do.  Just make sure you follow the rules.  As long as you’re within the rules, you should have no problem with expressing yourself.  That’s the most important thing of all.  Don’t stop thinking for yourself regardless of what others say to you or about you.

One final note in regards to President Obama and the rhetoric tossed at him from the right.  President Obama is not a dictator and he obviously loves his country and the Constitution despite what anyone says.  Wanna know why I say that?  Rudy Giuliani is still alive, breathing, and talking rhetoric.  If Obama were truly a dictator and hated America, Giuliani would have disappeared long ago when he first started talking negative about Obama.  I’d even go as far as to suggest that Giuliani wouldn’t have opened his mouth because there would have already been a trail of dead bodies for those who spoke out against “Emperor Obama”.  This is no ringing endorsement of President Obama.  This is just basic observation.  How many people spoke ill of Saddam Hussein and lived to speak ill a second time?


8 thoughts on “Always read the fine print

  1. Glad to see the kid engaged. He’s at the beginning stage: repeat what you hear. Hopefully he’ll progress to the next stages: get contrasting views, analyze, think, maybe come up with a new take.

    Then he’ll be like all the adults who oppose Emperor Obama, right?


    • I like seeing the youth engaged like that. I was that way, and I think I turned out all the better because of it. None of those who were great influences on me ever tried to push me in any direction. They allowed and encouraged me to search for the meaning of things on my own and was there to help me if I had questions.


      • That’s a great upbringing. I think I’ve mentioned before: when friends would come over in junior high or high school, they often said ‘is this your house or a library? ‘ Dad got books and magazines that reflected everything from far right to Soviet Life. Said ‘read it all, see what they have to say, think and make up your mind.’

        Re: my last post: for those who don’t know my rather dry style, that last sentence was sarcasm.


  2. Also, free speech is not free.

    Slightly, off the topic but not really. There’s a comedian named Sherrod Small who says your right to free speech extends as far as your willingness to tote an ass-whupping for it. Sound advice, in my opinion.


    • LOL!!! Some free speech might not extend as far as others using that metric. I’m not too keen on toting any ass-whupping unless it’s completely necessary. 🙂


  3. “Also, free speech is not free. If you’re using someone else’s platform to express your free speech, you are still subject to the rules they set for their platform.” — Thank you! I wish more people realized this.


  4. Look back when any one of you at 12 years old. 99.999999% of kids of that age think more like what the parents think. Independent thinking does kick in much later. IMO the parents are setting a piss poor example for the 12 year old and hiding behind their child. The parent seems to be very intelligent and most likely figured out the commotion that will be created by the child posting and create a large exposure for the family and the child.
    I call this Jon Benet syndrome.


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