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The policy update is meant to make the social platform safer for its youngest users

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 16, 2021 03:00 PM
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Instagram Will No Longer Allow Adults to Message Teens Who Don’t Already Follow Them
Credit: Instagram

Instagram on Tuesday introduced new policies meant to make the app safer for minors by limiting potential interactions with adults.

The Facebook-owned platform is now preventing adults from direct messaging minors if the minor doesn't already follow them, Instagram said in an announcement posted on their website.

Minors will also receive notices if they interact with adults who have "been exhibiting suspicious behavior," such as sending "a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18." Other prompts will remind teens not to feel pressured to respond to adults who are messaging them.

The update will appear in some countries by the end of the month and will be available for all users soon.

Instagram said they'll also be looking into ways to make it harder for adults who may be exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior to find minors in other areas of the app, such as in Reels or the Explore tab. Their comments on minors' public posts may also be hidden.

Instagram Will No Longer Allow Adults to Message Teens Who Don’t Already Follow Them
Credit: Instagram

In order for the measures to work, children will need to provide their real age when signing up for the app. The company addressed the issue in its announcement.

"We require everyone to be at least 13 to use Instagram and have asked new users to provide their age when they sign up for an account for some time," the announcement reads. "While many people are honest about their age, we know that young people can lie about their date of birth."

"We want to do more to stop this from happening, but verifying people's age online is complex and something many in our industry are grappling with," it continued.

The company said they are developing "new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology" to help keep minors safer on the app. Teenagers who sign up for the app will now be encouraged to make their profile private.

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"We believe that everyone should have a safe and supportive experience on Instagram," the company said. "These updates are a part of our ongoing efforts to protect young people, and our specialist teams will continue to invest in new interventions that further limit inappropriate interactions between adults and teens."