Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), on Wednesday, announced that it had relaxed its rules for teenagers by allowing them to share posts publicly on the social networking site, and added two more privacy options aimed at this age group, which is seen as more vulnerable than others to the ills of social media worldwide.
For the very first time, users aged between 13 years and 17 years will have the option to share photos, updates and comments with the general public on Facebook, meaning strangers and marketing companies will now be able to access select posts. In addition, teens will also be able to turn on “Follow” so that their public posts can be seen in people's “News Feeds.”
“Teens are among the savviest people using social media, and whether it comes to civic engagement, activism, or their thoughts on a new movie, they want to be heard,” Facebook said in a blog post. “So, starting today, people aged 13 through 17 will also have the choice to post publicly on Facebook.”
The social networking giant also introduced two other privacy protections. Till date, the default audience for the first post by people aged below 17 was set to “Friends of Friends,” with the option to change it. But from now on, the initial audience of their first post on Facebook will be set to a narrower audience of “Friends.”
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And, if teenagers change the default setting to “Public,” they see a pop-up warning with a reminder that they or any of their friends tagged in the post “could end up getting friend requests and messages from people they don't know personally.”
And, if the teenagers continue posting publicly, they will get an additional reminder saying that their post will be visible to anyone. Facebook said that the changes will take effect immediately.
“While only a small fraction of teens using Facebook might choose to post publicly, this update now gives them the choice to share more broadly, just like on other social media services,” Facebook said.
A TechCrunch report put forth an argument supporting the change. According to the report, teenagers are now aware of how to conduct themselves online, so “if they want to make the conscious choice to switch the audience of the News Feed posts to public, they should have that right.”
Other social networks such as Twitter and Tumblr don't prevent teens from posting publicly.