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Facebook Allows Teens To Go Public With Sharing

I know I am going to sound like a prude here but the announcement from Facebook that they are letting tens post updates publicly is not a great move.

Well, let’s qualify that. As far as being something that will make certain advertisers pee themselves with excitement, this is a fantastic move. The public company needs to generate revenue and this is one of the untapped faucets it has available to it. Of course there is some risk involved here but it’s not really Facebook’s at al. Rather it is the tens who are now being allowed to ‘go public’ with their updates etc.

The New York Times reports

Facebook has loosened its privacy rules for teenagers as a rising debate swirls over online threats to children from online bullies and sexual predators.

The move, announced on Wednesday, allows teenagers to post status updates, videos and images that can be seen by anyone, not just their friends or people who know their friends.

While Facebook described the change as giving teenagers more choice, big money is at stake for the social network and its advertisers. Marketers are keen to reach impressionable young consumers, and the more public information they have about those users, the better they are able to target their pitches.

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I get the business side. There is no denying the potential. But at what cost? At what point does the proliferation of information about everyone, including younger and possibly more impressionable folks, get smarmy? I think this is it.

There is a lot of online bullying already. I don’t get as upset about this as others might because I think it can be overplayed and used as an excuse like everything else that places the blame on someone else.

This could open the floodgates though for predators which is a far more scary thought. Couple that with the lack of filters that many younger folks have (that’s only because they haven’t been around long enough to learn) and you might have a recipe for disaster.

I gotta think that this is not even allowed to be discussed in Menlo Park. The opening up of the teen market will be spun to say that it is just the next natural step in making all the world more open and available to everyone and everything. It’s unhealthy although many haven’t really used that kind of terminology to describe social because it’s some form of sacrilege.

It may be time to draw the line but if Facebook says it’s OK most will simply play along and try to get as much money out of it as possible. I think we may have crossed a line here. What do you think?