Instagram introduced a number of new initiatives to improve the privacy and security of its underage users. One of them is by making accounts belonging to teenage users private by default.
From now on, users who create new Instagram accounts will be automatically set to private if they are under 16 (or 18 in certain countries). But they are still given the option to choose a public account, including when registering a new account.
Previously, when users created a new Instagram account they could choose between a public or private account. But Instagram said their research found that eight out of 10 young people chose the private option when signing up for a new account, making this option the default for users aged 16 and under.
Meanwhile, underage users who currently have an Instagram account will receive a notification inviting them to switch to a private account, complete with step guides and benefits,
Instagram’s initiative follows TikTok’s move earlier this year to private accounts belonging to users aged 13-15 years to keep them safe on the internet.
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Instagram It also limits interactions between underage users and suspicious adult accounts. They claim to be able to identify suspicious behavior from accounts, for example if the account has been reported or blocked by underage users.
Later these suspicious users will be separated from underage users. Their content will not be displayed on the Explore, Reels or Accounts Suggested for You pages, and will not be able to view comments or leave comments on accounts of users aged 16 and under.
“We’re trying to find out if adults exhibit suspicious behavior,” Instagram’s Head of Public Policy Karina Newton told NBC News, as quoted by The Verge, Thursday (29/7/2021).
“The adult may not have violated the rules, but may have done something that requires us to watch him closely.”
Facebook as Instagram’s parent also introduced a new system on how advertisers can target ads to users who are under 18 years of age.
Previously, all users could see ads that matched their interests and activities. Now advertisers on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger can only target ads to underage users according to age, gender and location.
At the same time, Facebook is also still developing an Instagram application specifically for children aged 13 and under. The plan was first reported by BuzzFeed News in March, and was immediately met with criticism.
Newton says Instagram app for children under 13 is still being developed and they have consulted with child development experts and privacy advocates to meet the needs of families and young people.
“We’re trying to build something that’s both engaging for teens and working for parents,” Newton said.