Instagram Intervenes: Adults can no longer message teens

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According to Instagram, protecting young people on their platforms is important. That’s why they are coming out with updates on new features and resources as part of the ongoing effort to protect the youngest community members.

Supporting parents and teens with new resources
Instagram wants parents to have the information to give their teens a safe and positive experience on Instagram. In the US, Instagram has partnered with The Child Mind Institute and ConnectSafely to publish a new parent guide. It includes the latest safety tools and privacy settings, as well as a list of tips and conversation starters to help parents navigate their teens about their online presence. This updated guide has been launched with expert partners in other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Singapore, and will be rolled out in more countries soon.

Real age is important to know

Instagram requires everyone to be at least 13 years old to use Instagram, and they’ve asked new users to provide their age when they’ve been signing up for an account for a while. While many people are honest about their age, they know that young people can lie about their date of birth. They want to do more to prevent this, but verifying people’s ages online is complex and something many in the industry are struggling with. To meet this challenge, they are developing new artificial intelligence technology to help keep teens safer and adopt new features appropriate to their age, such as those described below.

Restricting DMs between teens and adults who don’t follow them

To protect teens from unwanted adult contact, they are introducing a new feature that prevents adults from sending messages to people under 18 who are not following them. For example, if an adult tries to message a teen who isn’t following them, they’ll be notified that DMing isn’t an option.

Urging teens to be more careful about interactions with DMs

In addition to avoiding conversations between adults and teens who do not follow each other, they begin to use prompts – or safety messages – to encourage teens to use caution in conversations with adults they already have a relationship with.

Safety notices in DMs will notify youth when an adult who may be displaying suspicious behavior comes into contact with them in DMs. For example, if an adult sends a large number of friend or message requests to people under 18, they use this tool to alert the recipients within their DMs and give them the option to end the conversation, or to block, report, or restrict the grown-up.

Making it harder for adults to find and follow teenagers

In the coming weeks, they will explore ways to make it more difficult for adults who may have engaged in suspicious behavior to interact with teens. This can include things like preventing these adults from seeing teen accounts in Suggested Users, preventing them from discovering teen content in Reels of Explore, and automatically hiding their comments on teens’ public posts.

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