Facebook (FB) Vies With Twitter for Elusive Demographic

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Facebook  (FB) has relaxed its privacy restrictions for teenage users amid concerns the social network is losing the demographic to Twitter (TWTR). As of Wednesday, users aged 13 to 17 have the option of sharing status updates publicly, lifting previous limitations of only being able to share with "Friends" and "Friends of Friends."

"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 wrote in a statement.

The social network continues to vie for the elusive adolescent demographic on news teens are migrating to alternative social networks such as Twitter and communication apps such as SnapChat.

In a September research note, Evercore analyst Ken Sena recorded accelerating traffic declines particularly among the 12-17 and 18-24 age groups which dropped 42% and 25% respectively. He noted, however, that Facebook's subsidiary business, Instagram, still showed strong traffic among adolescents and young adults.

During a second-quarter conference call in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied reports of waning use among teens.

"We're close to fully penetrated in the U.S. teen demographic," he said. "The number of teens using Facebook on both a daily and monthly basis has been steady over the past year-and-a-half."

Regardless, Twitter's popularity as a Facebook alternative cannot be denied. In a recent Piper Jaffray study, the investment firm found 26% of adolescents preferred the microblogging site compared to 23% each for Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook shares gained 0.91% to $51.60 as of 11:14 a.m. ET. The S&P 500 is up 0.1%. Twitter is expected to list on the NYSE in November.

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