Facebook to tighten privacy standards for teenagers as legislation pends in Congress

In this June 11, 2014 photo, a man walks past a Facebook sign in an office on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif. British data protection authorities said Wednesday, July 2, that it is investigating revelations that Facebook conducted a psychological experiment on its users. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Facebook to tighten privacy standards for teenagers as legislation pends in Congress

Christopher Hutton

November 21, 10:09 AM November 21, 10:09 AM

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Teenagers under 16 will now automatically default to the highest privacy standards upon joining Facebook.

Facebook parent company Meta announced on Monday that it was updating its privacy defaults for teenagers 16 or under so that they automatically have tighter privacy features. The policy resembles rules that would be set in law by legislation authored by privacy-minded members of Congress.


“Starting today, everyone who is under the age of 16 (or under 18 in certain countries) will be defaulted into more private settings when they join Facebook,” the company wrote in a blog post. The software will also encourage teenagers already on the app to update their features to higher-privacy settings.

These updates will affect who can see a teenager’s friends list, page likes, tagged posts, and public comments on their profile. The company is also increasing its efforts to encourage teenagers to use Meta’s safety tools to communicate if they feel uncomfortable on the platform or require assistance.

Meta also announced that it is working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to build a global platform to help teenagers concerned that their private photos might be shared without their consent.

These new updates arrive less than a year after Instagram implemented tools to help parents better monitor and control their children’s social media accounts.

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Meta’s newly implemented rules resemble those proposed by the Kids Online Safety Act, a bill that Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) hope to pass in the lame-duck session of Congress. State and national lawmakers have pushed for tech companies to update their security standards to ensure teenagers have the highest privacy priorities at the start.

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