Photo: REX USA/Etienne Ansotte.
Until this week, Facebook had a security policy in place that made it impossible for strangers to view posts by users under the age of 17. While adults can make a decision whether their posts and Likes are visible to friends, friends of friends, or the entire world, the third option was only recently made available to teens. According to a Facebook press release, “Teens are 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. So, starting today, people aged 13 through 17 will also have the choice to post publicly on Facebook.”
As The New York Times correctly points out, however, it's not that simple. Teens are a key demographic for advertisers and marketers. It goes without saying that Facebook is under a lot of pressure to make money right now. And, by making that information public, the social network can compete with other sites like Twitter and Tumblr, where teenagers make up a huge portion of the daily conversation.
Of course, the concern here is that teenagers might not have the foresight to realize their statements will become permanent public record. Even fully grown adults make mistakes on social media that can ruin their careers or relationships. On the one hand, any teenager using social media needs to be aware of the fact that Internet privacy is often an illusion; on the other, a lot of people seem to agree that the basic risks of having an online personality is enough without making posts visible to anyone and everyone. What do you think? Are there moments from your own adolescence that you're relieved aren't forever captured online for everyone to see? (The New York Times)