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Instagram Stops Teenagers Receiving Messages From Adults They Don't Follow



Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Instagram is attempting to make its photo and video sharing social network a safer place for younger users, and it’s come up with new ways to prevent unwanted contact between teenagers and adults.

A new feature is being introduced to the platform that stops adults from sending messages to users under the age of 18 unless those teenagers have chosen to follow them. Any adult attempting to message a teen who doesn’t follow them will be notified a direct message isn’t allowed. Instagram is relying on machine learning combined with the age users provide on sign-up to help decide when to limit messages between two people.

Teenagers can also expect to start receiving safety notices in DMs if an adult they are following has been “exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior.” That behavior includes sending lots of friend or message requests to users under the age of 18. The safety notices will simply remind them to be cautious when chatting to adults. Those same adults who are detected as being suspicious will also have their ability to interact with teenagers restricted. Teens won’t appear on their Suggested Users list, Reels and Explore won’t show content to them from teens, and their comments will be automatically hidden on public posts by teens.

Another problem Instagram is trying to solve is users not telling the truth about their age when creating an account. You need to be at least 13 to sign-up on Instagram, but the social network admits that, “verifying people’s age online is complex and something many in our industry are grappling with.” In response, artificial intelligence and machine learning technology is being worked on to help figure out the true age of users.

Finally, anyone under the age of 18 signing up for an account will be presented with a new step asking if they want to make their account public or private. Choosing public results in a follow-up notification “highlighting the benefits of a private account and reminding them to check their settings.” Instagram says it wants to encourage private accounts for teens and “additional measures” are being considered for introduction.



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