Teens Moving to Twitter for…Privacy
What do young people do when aunts and uncles, neighbors, and parents start to encroach on the space that was once exclusively their own? They move on. Mostly.
Facebook, once the domain of young people, has matured. And apparently, it’s cramping their style.
Against all predictions, many teens are shifting their platform preference to Twitter, where they can converse with friends in an atmosphere that’s more like a group text message.
Now 16% of teens aged 12-17 say they use Twitter. That’s up from 8% just two years earlier.
Facebook use, some teens report, is waning. They check it sporadically and engage less.
Teens aren’t closing their Facebook accounts. It’s important to maintain a Facebook account. It serves a purpose—one that has more to do with sharing content (music, pics, videos, links) after the fact. While Twitter has the appeal of immediate conversation.
It’s a way to tell their friends who they’re with, what they’re thinking, and how they’re feeling…right now. Think of it as continuous processing rather than batch processing.
But this isn’t the only appeal of Twitter. Privacy settings are less complex and easier to use than Facebook’s. Setting up a locked account that allows them to communicate with a precisely controlled circle of friends is easy. (Pew reports “62% of teens who have a social media profile say the profile they use most often is set to be private so that only their friends can see the content they post.”)
Associated Press reports that although privacy is a strong driver for adopting a Twitter preference, teens and others may be deceived by what professor Ananda Mitra calls “mythical privacy.” One of your private followers could easily retweet a message intended only for close friends.
Also, on Twitter, anyone can have more than one account. Plus, there’s no requirement to use your real name.
It seems unimaginable that teens would leave Facebook behind for Twitter. But MySpace is an example of just such a major migration.
If you’re trying to engage teens, for any reason, using Twitter may soon be the best platform.