An official Facebook Newsroom press release added that teens are also now able to turn on Follow so that their public posts can be seen in people's News Feeds.
Womack gave an overview of how the new settings for teens work.
According to Womack, "While users aged 13 to 17 previously could only share posts as widely as 'friends of friends,' they now can make a message or photo available to anyone on the service or across the Web, the company said in a post yesterday. At the same time, Facebook will make 'friends only' the first option for teens sharing items when they join the site, more restrictive than the previous 'friends of friends' preset alternative."
On Wednesday, October 16, Josh Constine of TechCrunch explained how making "friends" the default setting could help protect the privacy of teens.
According to Constine, "... when people age 13 to 17 sign up, their posts to the News Feed are defaulted to 'friends only' instead of 'friends of friends (fof)' as they were before. That is important because many people don’t change their default settings, and if you have thousands of friends with thousands of friends, the fof setting would share your posts to more than a million people."
The official press release that appears in the Facebook Newsroom described the new rules as ways of making the popular social media network more appealing to young people while providing additional tools for keeping them safe. Womack added that the latest changes could help Facebook compete with other social media sites young people like to use such as Twitter or Snapchat.
According to Womack, "Facebook is seeking to keep younger users engaged on the service as it faces competition for the attention of teens, who are often early adopters of new social-media technologies and have spurred the rise of startups including Snapchat, which lets messages or photos that are sent disappear quickly. Facebook last year bought mobile photo-sharing service Instagram, which had become popular with teens."
When young people sign up for Facebook accounts, they have to take additional steps before they can switch their settings from "friends only" to "public."
Constine pointed out that teens must "manually opt in to public sharing and confirm they understand the risks."
The Facebook Newsroom update discusses other new security features for younger users. For example, a pop-up window will appear that asks teens to confirm they want to post something publicly. It may include a reminder that public posts can be seen by anyone and they may result in getting friend requests from people they don't know. The pop-up also gives teens the option to change the privacy setting for that post.
Womack added that Facebook has taken other steps to help protect teens in 2013.
According to Womack, "Facebook has made other efforts around online safety. Earlier this year, the Menlo Park, California-based company partnered with the National Association of Attorneys General to start a consumer-education program to provide teens and parents with help on how to manage their 'privacy and visibility, both on Facebook and more broadly on the Internet.'"
These moves may appeal to young people in the greater Spokane area while simultaneously causing their parents to have some concerns about what they might be posting. It is unclear whether these new options would be enough to lure local teens away from Twitter and Instagram, especially since Facebook is sometimes associated more with people their parents' ages and older.
However, considering that many people in the Spokane area only use Facebook, these new rules may encourage young people to spend more time on the site communicating with friends and relatives. It will be interesting to see if these changes lead to positive interactions or a chaotic nightmare of spammers and other predators finding pages belonging to local teens because of tags on their selfies or their latest status updates.