Instagram will ban adults from messaging children who aren’t following them in a bid to make the platform “safer for the youngest members of our community”.
The social media giant said it was rolling out a number of new features and developing new technology in order to keep minors safe on the platform.
Adult users will soon be restricted from sending messages to children under 18 who don’t follow them.
“For example, when an adult tries to message a teen who doesn’t follow them, they receive a notification that DMing them isn’t an option,” Instagram stated in a blog post today.
Individuals must be at least 13 years old when they sign up to the platform.
However, the social media giant said it was aware that young people are able to lie about their age.
“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.”
Instagram is developing new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology that will “predict peoples’ ages … and the age people give us when they sign up”.
“As we move to end-to-end encryption, we’re investing in features that protect privacy and keep people safe without accessing the content of DMs.”
Instagram will also start issuing safety notices to teenagers to be careful in conversations with adults that they are already connected to if the adult has exhibited “potentially suspicious behaviour”.
“For example, if an adult is sending a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18, we’ll use this tool to alert the recipients within their DMs and give them an option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult.”
It will become more difficult for these “potentially suspicious” adults to interact with teenagers: adults will no longer see teen accounts in suggested users and will not be able to see teen content in Reels or Explore.
Adult users’ comments on teens’ public posts will also be automatically hidden.
Instagram will also encourage teenagers to make their accounts private, and this will be embedded into the sign-up process for minors.
“We’ve recently added a new step when someone under 18 signs up for an Instagram account that gives them the option to choose between a public or private account,” Instagram’s blog post stated.
“Our aim is to encourage young people to opt for a private account by equipping them with information on what the different settings mean.”
These features will start rolling out in “some countries this month” and will be available globally “soon”.
“This is just a first step,” Instagram said. “We'll have more to share in the coming months.”