Facebook’s recent privacy changes have stirred up controversy and concern among parents. The new policy allows teens to make their accounts public and attract followers. Concerns have cropped up about marketers and those from the unknown public having access to online social media information on teens who’ve made their profiles public, as well as teens’ questionable abilities to discern what's appropriate to post on the Internet. How much responsibility does Facebook have in safeguarding younger users who may not understand all the implications of what they post online?

Facebook Recent Privacy

Why the Change?

Facebook decided to allow teens 13 to 17 to make their Facebook information public partly because teens deserve a "deliberate and public voice," said Nicky Colaco, manager of privacy and public policy on Facebook, according to the Wall Street Journal. But the signs point to it as a competitive strategy, as a Pew study showed teens are saying they're losing interest in Facebook and use other social media like Twitter more and more. Facebook may be feeling the pressure to keep the interest of younger teens so they don’t abandon the platform for other new and developing social media. Facebook claims the study shows kids are not concerned about their privacy or how to protect it, and want to use social media in different ways. But there is a lot of concern about young teens’ ability to make good decisions about what to put on online and its consequences.

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There are also indications Facebook is competing with other social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Google Plus to become the one site people use as their online presence for work, play, family and friends. Along with changes to allow younger teens to have public profiles, Facebook is developing new privacy and sharing tools for users to more easily understand and control who sees their information and how, so they are more comfortable being in the online directory.

What Can You Do?

When a vast social media platform wants to target your teens, what can you do to keep them safe? Parents can help teens understand the seriousness of posting online, explain privacy controls and monitor their teens’ Facebook use with activities such as reviewing their friends' list, chats and messages.

For parents who aren’t social media savvy but have teens on Facebook, keeping up with the latest issues in social media use is important. Resources like Lifelock's Twitter tips help to quickly inform and instruct about identity protection while online and using social media. Tweet your questions about Facebook security and privacy and Lifelock will answer in their Twitter feed. Browse tips about things like mail theft, receiving preapproved credit cards in your child's name, safely donating online, online shopping safety and password protecting your cell phone.

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