SAN FRANCISCO - Facebook began letting teenagers publicly share posts Wednesday as the social network moved to bolster appeal to youth and advertisers.
"Teens are among the savviest people using social media, and whether it comes to civic engagement, activism or their thoughts on a new movie, they want to be heard," Facebook said in a blog post.
"So, starting today, people aged 13 through 17 will also have the choice to post publicly on Facebook."
Previously, teenagers could share comments, pictures or other digital posts no further than with friends of friends on the social network.
The changes will allow users to activate a "Follow" feature that lets their public posts pop up in people's News Feeds.
"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," Facebook said.
"We are also looking at ways to improve the way teens use messages and connect with people they may know."
The modifications come as Facebook vies with one-to-many text message service Twitter to be the preferred venue for sharing thoughts, news and more in real time.
They would also add to the pool of public posts that Facebook might seek to incorporate into creative new advertising techniques to ramp up revenue.
The California-based online social network modified the initial setting for new accounts of teenagers to only share posts with "friends" instead of including others linked to those people at Facebook.
The setting remains in place unless account owners opt to change it.
"We take the safety of teens very seriously, so they will see an extra reminder before they can share publicly," Facebook said.
"When teens choose 'Public' in the audience selector, they'll see a reminder that the post can be seen by anyone, not just people they know, with an option to change the post's privacy."