Facebook announced Wednesday teenage users ages 13-17 will now be able to share pictures and posts with the public.
Prior to these changes, posts made these young Facebook users would only be shared with their Facebook friends, or friends of friends. Now the site will allow teens as young as 13 to choose if they want to keep their posts private are share them with everyone on the internet.
“I know what the young kids do nowadays,” Pamela Obenauer said. She has 13 year old twin girls. “They export all their pictures from their phone or their Instagram and put it on Facebook for their friends to see and now that it’s pretty much open to anybody it’s a little bit scary.”
Obenauer says sometimes kids don’t realize what they’re posting on the internet could put them at risk.
Prior to the privacy changes, anyone registering for a Facebook account could easily lie about their age. Now with more options for sharing, some Boise residents worry teens registering with their real birth year will be targeted.
“Now they can say ‘Okay, I’m a 13 year old,’ and say there’s Joe Blow from Kokomo down the road who likes little 13 year-olds on the internet,” Jennifer McCarter said. “It’s just one of those things that just don’t need to have happened.”
“It takes away parental control,” Delrae Keim said. “It opens kids that age wide open to being vulnerable to sexual predators.”
The Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has been dealing with sexual predators for years using Facebook as a tool to prey on young teens.
“It’s actually a resource for these sex offenders to use Facebook,” ICAC investigator Jim Kouril said. “They can share their information back and forth with some of their other offending friends.”
“We have many targets or bad guys in the state of Idaho that we are constantly pursuing,” Kouril said.
Their advice? Be involved in your children’s computer time, review their privacy settings and closely monitor what they post.
Investigators encourage parents to talk with their kids about what they’re posting not just on Facebook but other social media like Snap Chat, Vine, Instagram and Twitter.
To take a closer look at Facebook privacy tips Click Here.