Facebook changes privacy settings for teens

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DENVER -- It’s now easier for strangers to look at Facebook posts of teenagers.

Facebook loosened its privacy restrictions for minors, so they can make their posts open to the general public.

It's a move raising concern among parents and media experts.

Never before could teenagers make their Facebook posts, pictures and videos available for anyone to see. You had to have been a friend or friend of a friend.

But now 13- to 17-year-olds can click on “public” in the audience selector and open their thoughts to a wide, and some say, concerning audience.

Facebook says it’s giving teens control to choose their audience.

"It's scary. And 13. 13. C'mon."

But a Castle Rock mom who didn’t want to be identified says sometimes kids are too young to always make wise choices.

"They have all the emotions of an adult but they don't make those connections of consequences. They don't see, 'if I do this, this is going to happen. They can't see around corners. They just don't," she says.

Her two teen daughters are social media savvy and agree it can be risky for teens to post publicly.

They say what they see as a cute picture, for example, might be seen as provocative by others.

"I remember when I was 13 and even probably still now, you think of yourself a lot older than you actually are," says the 17-year-old high school senior.

DU media expert Lynn Schofield Clark agrees parents should be concerned and should teach their kids what’s appropriate to post and not.

"That's what concerns me the most about this Facebook privacy setting lifting, it's much easier now to gain access to things that were probably never intended for them specifically and it can spin out of control quickly," says Schofield Clark.

Facebook says it takes the safety of teens very seriously. It says when teens choose the public setting, they get a reminder their post can be seen by anyone—not just people they know.

"Absolutely not," says the Castle Rock mom.

She won’t allow her kids to change their setting to public.

"I'd like to protect my kids for as long as possible," she says.

If she could, she’d slow the pace of technology to the speed of the family’s tortoise. But often it feels like the speed of their chinchilla.

Facebook says it’s doing what other sites and mobile apps, like Twitter and Instagram, are already doing.

But some say the move will bring Facebook a new source of revenue from advertisers who covet the teen market.

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2 comments

  • Myke Hermann

    He needs those extra advertiser dollars to replace the 30 million he just paid to protect his own privacy by buying all the houses around his. The privacy and safety of anyone else, or their kids, he couldn’t care less about.

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