Facebook’s New Policy Brings a New Chapter into the Lives of Teenagers

Facebook relaxed its privacy policy recently, allowing teens between 13 and 17 years old to share whatever they posted with the general public. This move has raised new concerns about teenagers’ privacy and safety online, but I believe Facebook is definitely doing the right thing. Here’s why.

First, when the free speech confronts privacy right, Facebook refuses to compromise.

While experts are complaining about their privacy concerns, Facebook chooses to respect teenagers’ free expression rights. Should we limit teenagers’ freedom of speech just because of their age? Teenagers are the savviest people using social media; they post their thoughts about the new movies they have watched and interesting events they have attended… Instead of being heard only by their friends, they prefer to share their voices with the general public. Facebook therefore revised its privacy rules to give teenagers an opening door to the real world.

Second, when desires confront refrains, Facebook chooses to channel.

Teenagers are teenagers, as Stephen Balkam – an expert from Family Online Safety Institute-described: “they self-reveal before self-reflect”, Yes, kids are born this way, but does it mean we should solve this problem simply by stifling their innate desires? No one controls a flood by blocking it; instead, we channel it. It’s the same as Facebook. Facebook has been losing its teen user base because of its privacy limits. It means that as a kid, if I cannot express myself on Facebook, I just change to another site. Since mere prevention is becoming more and more pointless, Facebook finally dropped the prevention. Instead of blocking the flood of desires with its privacy limits, Facebook now opens the platform for teenagers to express themselves, adding just two more reminders before allowing posting. A channel of reminders is way cleverer than a block of limits.

Third, when permanence confronts regrets, Facebook provides a chance to retract.

As we make online content across social networks more permanent and searchable, the privilege of “do-over” has become scarcer and more valuable. Not only for kids, everyone who decides to put contents out there has to be aware that it can be replicated and spread to anywhere permanently. Facebook is providing a chance to retract these posts. As with preparing our kids with personal responsibility and digital literacy, it won’t happen overnight. With this retractable policy however, it surely gives our kids some leeway during this process.

Today’s teens grow up in a new era of information; not one of us, not even the brightest experts, has the experiences of growing up under the influence of all-pervasive social media before. Facebook, as the biggest social networking for-profit enterprise, has done nothing more than following the trends and needs. How wrong can it be?


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