To make its platform safer for teenagers, Instagram today announced new policies to restrict direct messaging between teens and adults they don’t follow. In other words, adults will no longer be able to send messages to Instagram users who are underage and don’t follow them.
- Restricting DMs between teens and adults.
- New safety notices about messaging adults.
- Encouraging teens to set their accounts to private.
Protecting teens from unwanted contact from adults
If the user is under 18 and follows an adult, however, Instagram will allow DMs between them. Basically, this new feature requires that a teen rather than an adult establishes the connection, giving them more control over their Instagram experience.
“For example, when an adult tries to message a teen who doesn’t follow them, they receive a notification that DM’ing them isn’t an option,” according to a post on the Instagram website.
Additionally, new features in the coming weeks will make it more difficult for adults “who have been exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior” to interact with teens on the platform.
This may include things like restricting these adults from seeing teen accounts in ‘Suggested Users’, preventing them from discovering teen content in Reels or Explore and automatically hiding their comments on public posts by teens.
Instagram is also encouraging young people to make their accounts private. Now when someone under 18 signs up for an Instagram account, they can immediately choose whether to make their account public or private as a new step during account creation.
“Our aim is to encourage young people to opt for a private account by equipping them with information on what the different settings mean,” the company notes.
New safety notices
Also, new safety notices will warn teenagers to be careful about messaging adults they’re already connected to. This feature will start rolling out in some countries later this month.
Safety notices in DMs will notify young people when an adult who has been exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior is interacting with them in DMs. For example, if an adult is sending a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18, we’ll use this tool to alert the recipients within their DMs and give them an option to end the conversation or block, report or restrict the adult.
And to stop people from lying about their age (Instagram requires everyone to be at least 13 to use the service), the company has developed new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to predict peoples’ ages and apply the aforementioned features.