Facebook has just announced that it will now allow users under 18 to post publicly. Until today, users aged 17 and under could only post updates that their friends, or in some cases, friends of friends, could see — ostensibly because it helped protect them. The feature likely won't entice any Facebook-loathing teens into using the service, but creates a level playing field where there wasn't one before. Now all users will see the same drop-down "audience selector," which lets you specify who can see each photo or status you post.

Facebook_audience_selector

"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," the company said in a blog post. Instagram and Twitter, for example, let users decide to either post privately or publicly from the get-go. This also means that users of all ages can now "Follow" each other's public posts, even if they aren't friends.

Letting teens post publicly also opens up their posts to being seen by anyone, including researchers, brands, and of course, morning TV news hosts. Facebook has placed an increased emphasis on the site as a place to talk publicly about TV shows, movies, and artists — much as the way Twitter users do. As of today, Facebook's audience is that much bigger.