Facebook announced yet another change in the site's usage terms on Wednesday, easing restrictions on how minors could use the social network. Users under the age of 18 can now post publicly, whereas before they were restricted to sharing updates only with friends or friends of friends.
The site is couching the need for the policy change with the assertion that, "While only a small fraction of teens using Facebook might choose to post publicly, this update now gives them the choice to share more broadly, just like on other social media services," namely Twitter and (Facebook-owned) Instagram. So it's really just a matter of keeping up with the Joneses. Simple as that.
Oh, and also, as The New York Times notes, "big money is at stake for the company and its advertisers. Marketers are keen to reach impressionable young consumers, and the more public information they have about those users, the better they are able to target their pitches." So while Facebook is trying to maintain parity with other social networks, it's also looking to gain more data on its users that can then be turned into advertising opportunities, and potentially include their users' personal data in order to sell products.
While the default posting setting for minors remains friends-only, allowing public posting has some cyberbullying activists up in arms, expressing to the Times their worry that removing the restriction will make embarrassment or harassment easier. Not all states have laws like California's, which requires that sites allow minors to delete their postings.