FACEBOOK'S new privacy rules for teens allowing them to post publicly may put children at risk, according to child advocate groups.
Until yesterday teens aged from 13 to 17 were limited to sharing status updates, links, information and photos only with their own friends or friends of those friends.
The new changes will give teens the choice of switching their settings so their posts can be accessible to the public.
Don Myers, president of the National Parents Council, Post-Primary, branded the move "irresponsible".
"It is a very irresponsible move by Facebook given that it is opening up the privacy and safety of teens to a larger audience on the social network," he said.
"It would be better if they dealt with the cyber-bullying issue rather than making teens more prone to social media abuse. Teens don't see the danger that we as adults would see in social media networks."
Childline manager Margie Roe said the changes are a concern, but the most important thing is to educate young people on how to keep themselves safe online.
"It is a concern that young people can post things publicly and maybe not make the best choices for themselves," she said. "Hopefully they will make a positive choice for themselves. The key thing is education and raising awareness around the risks on posting things publicly."
Janice Richardson, Insafe network co-ordinator, said it was a matter of finding the balance between protection and freedom of speech. Insafe is a European network of awareness centres, part of the EU Safer Internet Plus programme.
"Is it really equitable that young entrepreneurs and people like the now world-famous Malala from Afghanistan are not allowed to express their very important views publicly?" she said.
"We need to be able to hear and heed the voice of young people, also through social media, which is their media channel of predilection.
"We are also pleased to see that Facebook is taking the advice of Insafe and other online safety experts onboard, and using this change as a platform for educating young users," she added.