Facebook loosens rules to let teens publicly share posts - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Facebook loosens rules to let teens publicly share posts

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Facebook is making some big changes and letting younger users share their updates publicly.

Effective immediately, now everyone will be able to see what teenagers are posting on Facebook. This change is raising the risks of minors leaving a digital trail that could lead to big trouble, if they're not careful.

"It used to be they could only share their posts with friends or friends of friends, now its open to the public," said Scott Driscoll with Internet Safety Concepts.

Facebook is relaxing privacy rules for teens and 13 to 17 year olds have the option to share photos and comments with the general Facebook public.

The company officials said the change will help them compete with other sites such as Twitter and Tumblr that don't prevent teens from posting publicly. They're also banking on appealing to advertisers now that teens information will be out there for everyone to see.

"Sometimes we drop our guard with how much information we share," Driscoll said.

Driscoll said information such as pictures and locations can get into the wrong hands.

"The average age of a Facebook user is 38 to 41, and now they're dropping security settings," Driscoll said. "They weren't perfect, but at least there was something. Now there's nothing."

As a protective measure, Facebook will warn minors before every post that they are exposing themselves to a broader audience as long as their settings remain public. Teens can change their default settings to be more restrictive.

Driscoll said parents should be involved by sitting down with their child and "see how they're posting things."

"And make sure every time that they post something, it's set to private or to friends only," Driscoll said. 

Driscoll also advises parents to be acquainted with all the social media apps kids use such as Instagram and Twitter.

He also reminds parents that children under the age of 13 are not officially allowed to sign up for Facebook

Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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