Facebook has relaxed its privacy rules for teenagers now allowing them to share post publicly amid concerns that teens’ digital lives could be used for commercial interests by advertisers among others.

In an announcement, the California-based Internet firm called teens "among the savviest people using social media".

“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,” Facebook said in a blog post on Wednesday.

With this the social media giant also looks to expand its Internet-based revenue sources through the “tech-savvy” teens as teenagers will now have more visibility in the digital world to share their thoughts and ideas publicly.

Previously, teens from age 13-17 using Facebook were only able to share content with friends, friends of friends and custom groups like “family.”

Now, they can choose to share posts with anyone, just like users 18 and above.

The network illustrated the potential of this freshly unleashed enthusiasm in a triptych of status updates.

One “savvy” teen crows about a just-completed 10K for charity, another announces his drive to help the hungry and a third asks for weekend movie suggestions.

Who wouldn’t want to share that with the world? Any teenager wishing to share a status update or post publicly must first manually change the audience setting on his post to “public” before sharing.

After doing so, a pop-up explains that the post will be visible to everyone on the site.

The post will go live once the user clicks “ok” on this pop-up box, acknowledging he has seen the warning and intends to share publicly.

Despite taking these privacy-protective actions, teen social media users do not express a high level of concern about businesses or advertisers, just 9 per cent say they are “very” concerned.

Teenagers can also change settings to allow non-friends to follow public posts.

Users who choose to follow a teenager will be able to see these public posts, with the exception of posts that have not been shared with them.

Teenagers will not be followable automatically, and will need to manually update their settings to enable follows.

The update simply gives teenagers the ability to share publicly, just as they can on other social sites like Twitter.

Facebook does not allow children under 13 to set up accounts on its service but does not have a reliable way to verify users’ ages.

(This article was published on October 18, 2013)
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