Facebook 'working to allow access for under-13s' header image

A patent filed by Facebook indicates the company is planning to add even more active users to a current total of 1.28 billion.

The document, which was published by the US Patent Office last week, describes a system that could legally allow children to sign up to the social network.

Parents would be required to verify both their own identities and those of their offspring before authorising Facebook to open an account. They could then block access to inappropriate content, such as games like FarmVille.

At present, under-13s are prohibited from using Facebook, though enforcing this rule has proven difficult for the company. In 2012 alone, it is understood to have removed 800,000 preteens who had signed up to the social network in secret.

Asked for comment, Facebook claimed it regularly researched systems to improve child safety online "like any responsible company".

The patent reflects that despite regulatory challenges, there is now an expectation that every member of the family should be able to use a broadband connection to access social networks.