Facebook has announced it is loosening its privacy policies for teenagers, allowing minors to share information publicly on the social network.
Until now, Facebook had barred users between the ages of 13 and 17 from sharing updates beyond their extended network—their friends, or friends of friends. When teens join Facebook, they’ll have stronger privacy protection by default, with posts limited only to friends. But they’ll be able to change the initial settings to make information available to the general public.
“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,” stated a Facebook blog post today. That underscores the company’s concerns about losing teen users to competitors like Twitter, Tumblr or Snapchat. Last week a Piper Jaffray study suggested teens now slightly prefer Twitter to Facebook.
Facebook described teens in its announcement as “among the savviest people using social media, and whether it comes to civic engagement, activism, or their thoughts on a new movie, they want to be heard.” Even so, the social network said it would show teens an extra reminder before they can share posts publicly.