Marketers Rejoice: Facebook Teens Go Public

facebook laptopToday in social media freak-outs, Facebook recently announced that it would allow users in the 13-17 year old age bracket to post publicly on the social media site. This will allow young users not only to post things to the entire world, but also to have their updates followed by complete strangers, Twitter-style.

Why The Shift?

Facebook gave a number of reasons for the policy change. First, it called teenage users “among the savviest people using social media.” To Facebook’s thinking, the “savviest people” ought to be able to post to whomever they want, whenever they want. Second, Facebook recognizes that many young people are smart enough to protect their personal information online, even if they are posting to a wider audience. In fact, many of the teenagers referenced in the announcement use Facebook for philanthropic activities and other social engagement.

The Backlash

Despite the fact that Facebook still has privacy settings that allow young users (actually all users) to post only to friends and other known entities, many people are concerned by the new policy. Organizations like the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood believe that public Facebook posts from users 13-17 are just another way for advertisers to get their hooks into teenagers (AKA “The World’s Easiest Target”).

Despite the initial panic, in all likelihood, the newest Facebook policies mean nothing to the average person. Sure, it might be easier for you to read statuses written by philosophical high school sophomores, but it is unlikely to change the way advertisers approach you while you are on the site. Still, if you are in the business of advertising to teenagers, you might want to consider new ways to get their attention on Facebook.

What do you think about Facebook’s new privacy policies for users aged 13-17? Will it change the way you advertise your brand or business?

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A teacher by trade, Elizabeth LaBelle graduated with honors from the University of Michigan in 2011. After specializing in Political Science and Francophone Studies with a minor in Korean, the only tangible skill she can show for it is the ability to write in all three languages. Elizabeth never thought she would get paid to write in any language – but after four years washing dishes in an industrial kitchen and a year selling office supplies door-to-door, nothing surprises her. When she’s not writing or teaching, Elizabeth coaches high school debate and forensics. Her hobbies include thoroughbred racing, competitive pool playing and hunting for the perfect Chicago apartment.

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