Facebook is loosening its set of privacy policies involving teen users. As expected, the action is drawing fire from other users and from its critics. This could be odd because the social networking site has always been criticized about its usually stringent privacy rules. But now that it may be relaxing a bit, it may still be bashed.
In the middle of this week, the Website changed privacy rules covering its users who are aged 13 years old to 17 years old. Those young users used to share status updates, videos and pictures only with other users within their network of friends. But with the recent changes, those teenaged users could take the option to make their accounts and their posts widely available in public.
In a statement, the company said it recognizes the fact that teens are one of the savviest consumers across the social media. It admitted that it believes that only a few teens would choose to post their updates publicly. But it thinks that those users also deserve to have choices whether to share their statuses within or outside their network of friends.
Choices for teens
Facebook now allows teens to activate their Follow feature to allow posts to be showcased in other users’ news feeds. Thus, teenage users could share that privilege with their adult counterparts, who could opt how their information is made public or private.
However, Facebook said it is not leaving teen users out alone. They would see reminders and warnings prior to sharing information publicly. When they opt for ‘Public’ within the audience selector, there would be another reminder telling them that the post could be accessed or seen by just about anyone. There would be additional reminders if they choose to proceed.
Warning to Facebook
To many observers and analysts, this move by Facebook could be all about advertising. They have asserted that the measure would only make advertisers determine the online and consumption behavior of teen users. Thus, marketers could now better understand what teenage social media users want to talk about or what they want to buy.
But those analysts also warn the company about a possible backlash. They pointed out that teens’ parents could stand up and punish Facebook for its move. They could either prohibit their children from using the social network or ditch their investments in the company’s stocks.