Facebook have decided to allow teenagers aged between 13 and 17 to share information with the rest of the world. Previously posts made by those in this age group were automatically set to private enabling only their friends or friends of friends to view their updates depending on their privacy settings. The young teenagers will be shown a reminder before submitting their update that it will be seen publically giving them the option to change their privacy setting to ‘private’.
For many these changes have further fuelled the already bubbling over can of worms regarding the lax safety guards enforced by social media networks, especially with the growing trend of cyber bullying. We only have to look at the cyber bullying cases of 2013 so far, many of which have involved the social network ask.fm. This site allows anyone to post their comments, opinions whilst given the option to post anonymously.
Now Facebook is relaxing its rules to integrate young adults into a seemingly adult environment? Social media is well known for attracting ‘trolls’, those who feel empowered to make malicious comments that they perhaps would not say to the individuals face. However we are talking about children, in some case children who think they are invincible partially due to their age and partially due to sheer stupidity. We only have to look at the most recent teen suicide case of Rebecca Ann Sedwick who was bullied online. Facebook posts made by the older of the two bullies have been made public ‘‘Yes IK [I know] I bullied REBECCA nd [sic] she killed her self but IDGAF [I don’t give a f***],’ Shaw allegedly posted.’ If the initial posts made by these and the other 13 people involved in the online bullying had been made public could it have prevented Rebecca from committing suicide or further escalated the satiation? As good as social media can do it is not necessarily known for always attracting those with common sense. In the case of Rebecca the two key bullies aged 12 and 14 have been arrested in connection with the death of Rebecca and charged with felony aggravated stalking.
As much as I don’t agree with the changes made by Facebook they are not doing anything different to other social networking sites. Facebook are saying this change will enable teenager to fully engage and effectively utilise the Facebook world. Regardless of what the likes of Mark Zuckerberg say the aim is to increase their profits. Teenagers are young, impressionable individuals trying to figure out who they are. They spend a lot of time on the social sites, playing games, talking with their friends, posting selfies; generally trying to look like trend setters in front of their friends. Behaviour Facebook wants to help push them ahead of their competitors.