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Teens to Share Publicly on Facebook
By: Jessica Cherok
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Once again, Facebook is changing its privacy settings. This time, however, the settings are exclusive to a specific demographic: teenagers. The social media giant has decided to now let 13–17-year-olds share updates, comments, and photos publicly.

Previously, users within this age group could only allow their activity to be seen publicly if they lied about their age. That kind of lie was easy enough to do, but with this new change, these users need not bother.

Although Facebook did not expressly say so in their announcement blog post, the new sharing allowance likely has a lot to do with advertising. The company has been on a steady push for the last several years to make itself increasingly attractive to advertisers by collecting as much user data as possible. Teens being able to share publicly means that companies, strangers, and the public at large can view the information.

The sharing settings work exactly the same as they work for adults. Each post is given the option to share amongst Friends, Friends of Friends, Groups, or Public. This means teens are now deprived of at least one layer of privacy protection defaulted to them when they signed up for a Facebook account.

Will the new sharing policy make Facebook more attractive to younger users? Probably not. The site has been losing this demographic to other social media outlets, largely because kids don’t want to be on the same site as their parents or grandparents.

If you’re the parent of a teen who is on Facebook, make sure you let them know about the change and what the different audiences mean to their posts. While their posts will still be defaulted to “Friends of Friends,” it’s still a good idea to explain the differences instead of letting them find out on their own as the result of something negative.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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