Teen Facebook users ages 13-17 now have the option to share photos, updates and comments with the general public on Facebook.

According to Facebook’s latest news update, teens are among the most active users of social media, ranging from civic engagement topics to their thoughts on a new movie. They want to be heard. In an attempt to appeal to the declining number of teens using Facebook, they’ve changed their privacy policy.  As of October 16, 2013, teens ages 13 through 17 now have the choice to post publicly on Facebook. All though the default when setting up a new account will now be “Friends only, ” teens now have the option to change that to “Public” under the new privacy settings.

When teens choose “Public” in the audience selector, they’ll see a reminder that the post can be seen by anyone, not just people they know, with an option to change the post’s privacy setting.

Facebook Privacy Screenshot
Source: Facebook

And if teens choose to continue posting publicly, they will get an additional reminder.

Facebook Privacy Screenshot
Source: Facebook

What this means for parents:

  • Strangers and companies collecting data for advertisers and marketing companies will be able to see select posts.
  • Strangers will also be able to “follow” teens they don’t know and see their public posts in the main news feed.
  • If teens change the audience of a post to share an update publicly, unless they use the audience selector to change their privacy setting back to “Friends,” all future posts will be public.
  • Facebook’s “Follow” feature now lets teens share posts, pictures and links with people they’re not friends with. Previously, minors were not able to turn on the “Follow” feature.

While minors can now opt to post updates, links and photos publicly — Facebook continues to protect some searchable information about minors, including their contact information, school and birthday.

Facebook is simply using the same privacy model that other competing social media sites (such as Twitter) already have in use. It’s important to continue to be vigilant when it comes to understanding the implications of privacy policy changes to any social media site.