Facebook lifts restriction on teen users sharing with public

Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:37pm EDT
 
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By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc removed a restriction for users under 18 that previously limited who could see their online postings from photos to musings on the world-wide social network.

The No.1 online social network said that teenagers would now be able to manually alter the setting and share information with the public. Until now, a teenager's postings on Facebook were only viewable to their friends, and to the friends of their friends.

However, Facebook said on Wednesday the default setting when teens do share information on the 1.15 billion user network would go out to a narrower group of people.

"Teens are among the savviest people using of 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 an announcement of the changes.

"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," the company said.

The change comes as Facebook faces increasing competition from a new crop of mobile and social services, such as SnapChat and WhatsApp, that have proven popular with younger users.

Jeffrey Chester, Executive Director of the non-profit Center for Digital Democracy, said that Facebook was sacrificing the safety and privacy of teenage users in order to further its business.

"Teens don't necessarily have good judgment and to the extent that they make themselves visible to the wider public, there's all kind of people - from predators to junk food marketers - who are surveilling Facebook for new kinds of targets," Chester said.   Continued...

 
A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, in this photo illustration, May 2, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic