Instagram is stepping up its efforts to make the network safer for its younger users, announcing new options to do so.
The first feature is that Instagram accounts for people under the age of 16 will be set to private by default.
Users with private accounts have more control over who follows them, as well as who sees their posts, Stories, and Reels. Your private account’s content isn’t searchable in the Explore Page, hashtags, or Accounts Suggested For You.
Instagram’s research has indicated that when it comes to signing up for the network, younger people prefer private accounts, and this move aims to make their experience safe and comfortable for them.
Instagram will prompt kids who have already joined up and have public accounts to switch to a private one. The app will display a message describing the advantages of having a private account and how to modify their privacy settings. This is an optional option, and tens can choose to make their account public or private.
“While most platforms have set their minimum age for participation at 13, there’s no on/off switch that makes someone ready to be a fully media-literate participant on that birthday. Defaulting accounts to private for under-16s encourages young people to develop comfort, confidence, and capability as digital citizens during their younger years and help them develop habits to last a lifetime,” said David Kleeman, Senior Vice President, Global Trends at Dubit.
Instagram goes on to say that encouraging young teenagers to switch to private profiles will help them avoid unwanted adult contact. Instagram will prohibit accounts with “possibly suspect behavior” from engaging with accounts belonging to minors.
These accounts that have been blocked or reported by a young person will not be able to find or follow other young people’s accounts by searching for their username.
“Instagram’s strategy to proactively weed out potential predators is a welcome innovation; teens have a right to explore their social selves freely without having to worry about predators lurking in the shadows. Whilst teens are generally aware of the risks in sharing personal information, they are often less ‘street savvy when it comes to privacy settings. Defaulting young people into private accounts gives them time to adapt and learn to manage their privacy without restricting their freedom of choice in any way,” said Janice Richardson, International Advisor at Insight SA, expert to the Council of Europe.
Instagram intends to implement this technology across the board.
Instagram is also changing how brands may reach out to millennials. Advertisers will be able to target adverts to people under the age of 18 (or older in some countries) depending on their age, gender, and geography. These changes will affect Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger on a global level.