Instagram, Facebook make changes for “younger” users

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Facebook seems to still be set on creating an app for a younger demographic but for now, both the main app and Instagram are taking some steps to make the platforms safer for them. Well, if there are any still left there of course. Instagram is doing things like defaulting accounts of those younger than 16 to private and making it harder for “potentially suspicious” accounts to find young people on the platform. Meanwhile, Facebook and Instagram as well will limit the options for advertisers to target young people.

Users who are 16 and below (or depending on age restrictions in their countries) who sign up for an Instagram account will be defaulted to a private account. Of course, they can still switch to public if they wanted to but this is the platform’s way to “encourage” the younger users to stick to private. For existing users, they will also receive notifications telling them to switch their account to private and sharing the benefits of doing so.

Instagram will also use new technology to identify accounts that have been previously blocked or reported by younger users and restrict said accounts from being able to see and contact teens’ accounts. They will not see such accounts in Explore, Reels, or the Accounts Suggested for You section. They won’t be able to follow or comment on the young person’s account or see comments from them in other people’s posts. These changes will initially roll out in the US, Australia, France, the UK, and Japan.

Meanwhile, both Facebook and Instagram will limit how advertisers can reach young people on both platforms. They will only allow advertisers to target those under 18 based on age, gender, and location. Previously, they could also target based on interests or activity on other apps and websites but in the coming weeks, they will no longer be able to do so. This will apply globally and also to the Messenger platform.

Facebook also explained how they are able to detect younger users who are not supposed to be on the platform but most likely lied about their age. They use AI technology to detect multiple signals that indicate a user is underage. They are also working with industry partners like OS providers, internet browsers, etc on how to help establish whether people are over a specific age. You can read all about their plans here.

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