Instagram makes content filters stricter by default for users under 16

Instagram will automatically provide new users under 16 with its strictest content filter, whereby they see as little ‘sensitive content’ as possible. Existing users under the age of 16 will be recommended in the app to enable this as well.

The filters regulate the amount of content that users see that is of a sexual or violent nature. This setting has three levels: less, default, and more. The wording from Meta subsidiary Instagram seems to indicate that this filter level can be adjusted by the user after registration, even if the user is under 16. Existing users are suggested in the interface to also switch to this filter level. They are ‘encouraged’ to do so, so there is no obligation.

The filters apply to the Explore, Reels, Feed, search, and hashtag sections of Instagram. Those are all sections where Instagram’s algorithms make a selection of what content to show to the user.

While these changes won’t stop determined users from setting less stringent filters, they do have some tougher restrictions. The ‘more’ filter setting is only for users 18 years of age or older. If a user wishes to change his or her age in the profile from under 18 to over 18, age verification is required, often including photo ID. However, there are also other options.

It is not the first measure that has been taken to make the platform more child-friendly. Accounts of users under 16 are protected by default and adult users can no longer just send DMs to teens.

Major social media platforms like Instagram almost always have to deal with governments calling for stricter moderation. Due to the size of these platforms, this is no small task. Still, the platforms would do well to work on it anyway. In the past, governments have acted against such platforms due to a lack of moderation.