Expert view

Simon Milner

Simon Milner is Facebook’s first UK and Ireland Policy Director, responsible for issues such as privacy, safety and advertising policy. He joined the company in January 2012 having previously held senior roles at BT and the BBC.

Location services on Facebook 

Simon Milner, Director of Policy at Facebook, explains how Facebook is helping to protect younger users.

Alot of parents don’t know that the experience 13 to 17-year-olds have on Facebook isn’t the same as that of adults.

We work hard to make Facebook a safe place and proactively thinking about the best way young people can use Facebook is a big focus for us.

Facebook accounts registered to under 18s can’t be found by an external search engine. For Facebook Search, under 18s can adjust the setting of “Who can search for me by name or contact info” from ‘Everyone’ to ‘Friends’ or ‘Friends of Friends’ by going to their privacy settings, clicking ‘how you connect’, and then adjusting the setting for who can search for them. Friends of Friends is also the widest possible audience for under 18s’ photos or status updates or for exchanging messages.

Location services on Facebook

Facebook use on mobile devices is growing quickly and with many people using their mobiles to stay in touch wherever they are, we have built location tools into the heart of Facebook.

If you choose to share your location with friends on Facebook, the process is simple, quick and intuitive. Again, we apply protections to location sharing for under 18s – so if a young person chooses to add their location to posts, only their friends will see it.

The location sharing option for teens is defaulted to ‘off’ but they can turn it on by clicking the location icon button.

There are two ways in which they can choose to share their location on Facebook. They can add their specific location, such as a cinema or a café, as a ‘tag’ to their posts by clicking the location icon or by using the ‘check in’ button in Facebook mobile applications.

Secondly, they can also choose to add a more general location to all of their posts, by hovering over the ‘near: town name’ text under the update. This adds the broader area they are posting from to their updates.

Because location is shared with a teen’s friends, we encourage parents to help their children understand that it’s important to take care over who is on their Facebook friends list.


Get talking

You don’t need to be a technology expert to ask questions and begin an ongoing discussion with teens about online safety. In fact, as more and more of our world becomes digital, online safety is a life skill we all need to learn. As a father of three kids (aged 14, 12 and 9), I know this only too well.

Having conversations about safety and technology early and often should be something that we all do, in the same way that we talk with our children about being safe at school, in the park, on public transport or playing sport.

At Facebook, we’ve thought a lot about how we can all help each other start these conversations and have drawn up some pointers and advice in our Family Safety Centre.

One good way to get your teen talking is to ask them to show you how they use Facebook or to ask for advice on what you as a parent can do on the site.

You can also find information about how our Social Reporting Tools work in the Family Safety Centre – they enable young people to send a copy of a report they make if they have had a problem on Facebook, such as bullying, to you so you’ll know straight away if they need help.

All of the content was put together by our dedicated safety team, many of whom are parents themselves, to help parents, teenagers and teachers stay as safe as possible online – on Facebook and across the rest of the Web.

You can find a guide to Facebook's privacy controls in our 'How to' section or visit