Instagram today announced several new tools and changes coming to the platform with the aim of “protecting young people.” Amongst the changes will be the inability for adults to DM teenagers (users under 18 years old) who don’t follow them.
Instagram says it has partnered with The Child Mind Institute and the non-profit group ConnectSafely to publish a new Parents Guide in the U.S. The new resource advises parents and teenagers on proper and safe usage of the platform. It will additionally roll out in partnership with experts in Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, and Singapore, joining existing guides for the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain and with plans to expand further in the future.
Instagram’s terms and conditions require all users to be at least 13 years old to make an account, although some young users “can lie about their date of birth,” circumventing the requirement. To battle it, Instagram does ask some new users for a form of age verification, and now, Instagram will use artificial intelligence to help “keep teens safer and apply new age-appropriate features.”
One of the most prominent new “age-appropriate features” will be limited interaction between adults and teenagers who aren’t following each other. As Instagram explains, if an adult tries to DM a teenager who doesn’t follow them, they’ll be shown a prompt saying, “You can’t message this account unless they follow you.” Additionally, Instagram will add new “Saftey Notices” for teenagers when messaging an adult they follow.
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 it to alert the recipients within their DMs and give them an option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult.
Other changes coming to Instagram will include the platform attempting to make it harder for adults to find teenagers to follow if they’ve been “exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior to interact with teens.” Instagram also says it will encourage teenagers to make their accounts private, only allowing people they approve to see their photos and videos.