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Status update: Facebook allows teens to post publicly

Screen time and social media use for children have received attention from child health advocates and policymakers as adults grapple with protecting children from harm in the face of new technologies that have become omnipresent in U.S. society.

Facebook recently announced an update to its privacy policy for teens ages 13-17 which allows the users to make public posts – posts that can be seen not just by their Facebook friends, but by everyone. In light of increasing concerns about cyberbullying, this move has received criticism from parents and privacy advocates who are worried about another layer or privacy and protection being stripped away from social media users who are still children.

In a 2012 National Poll on Children’s Health, we asked adults across the country for their perspectives on privacy of children online. The majority of adults expressed strong support for updating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to include more safeguards to protect young children. Read the full report: Public supports expanded Internet safety requirements to protect kids.

Infographic: Public support for proposed updates to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
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COPPA was updated in July to prohibit collecting geolocation information, photographs, and videos from children under age 13 without parental consent. But this does not apply to those social media users who are older than 13 but still children, allowing Facebook to open up their platform and enable public posts from users ages 13-17.

What are your thoughts on Facebook’s privacy update for teens? Should teens be able to post publicly? Should there be federal legislation like COPPA that applies to teens too?