Facebook tinkers with teens’ privacy settings, allows public posts

17 Oct 2013

Teens on Facebook will now be able to share their updates with the world at large as the social network tweaks settings to give them the option of reaching a wider audience.

Every Facebook user can choose the audience for each individual status update. This can be limited to just his or her friends, themselves only, or even a custom group. There’s also the option to post publicly, which, until now, was not available for users aged 13 to 17.

Yesterday, Facebook announced a change to the privacy settings of these users. Previously, the audience for posts from the under-18s was ‘Friends of Friends’ by default, and they could switch this to ‘Friends’ as they wished.

Now, the default setting is the more limited ‘Friends’, but the alternative options also include ‘Public’.

Facebook claims it has introduced this measure in order to compete with rival social networks with more open settings that are attracting more and more teens, like Twitter.

Users in this age bracket will be asked for confirmation before they post publicly. Once the audience is selected, the setting remains in place for future posts. In the case of the ‘Public’ setting remaining on teen posts, these reminders will continue to appear.

Facebook public posts warning

Facebook public posts warning

The content of public posts is searchable on Facebook’s Graph Search, and teen users can now turn on follower settings to allow people that aren’t connected as friends to see their public posts in their news feed.

Parents may have concerns about their teens publicly broadcasting to all and sundry via Facebook. As with all social networks, guardians should discuss the implications of sharing things online and be conscious of how children are using social media.