Facebook fiddles with public posts to attract more teenagers

The network is trying to tap into a younger crowd by retooling what and how they share with friends.


Published October 17, 2013 3:02PM (EDT)

Facebook has a problem: Despite its 1.15 billion users, many members of the younger demographic don't think it's as cool as some other social networks. So, yesterday Facebook decided to, like, in a totally cool and unshowy way, change the public posting policy for its youngest users. Anyone between the ages of 13 and 17 can choose to make a post visible to everyone, rather than the current status quo: sharing posts with one's friends, or friends of friends.

However, in order to assuage the worries of the kids' parents, the network announced that the default share setting of new users aged 13 to 17 will be Friends Only: It is up to the user to increase the reach of their Facebook content. It has long been assumed that teens have less of an issue sharing stuff on the Internet––and legislators in California have just introduced a digital eraser to allow public online indiscretions to be scrubbed permanently.

Facebook has also taken a cue fromTwitter, and will allow teens to have "followers" as well as "friends." That means teens on Facebook can choose whether their posts appear in non–friends' news feeds. "While only a small fraction of teens using Facebook might choose to post publicly," Facebook wrote in its press release, "this update now gives them the choice to share more broadly, just like on other social media services."

This change is one of many ways in which the firm is trying to entice teens, who since time eternal have been happier doing their own things far away from their parents––which often means, in the online age, hanging out on sites such as Pheed and Snapchat. Earlier this year, Facebook also started testing out chat rooms for its users.



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