Instagram is set to make some changes to protect its young users. Beginning July 27, any user under the age of 16 will have their account switch to private by default, but the option to go public will still be available for them.
Young users with public accounts currently using the app will receive a notification encouraging them to change their status to private.
Instagram's Steps to Protect Minors
Instagram has been working on keeping the app safe for minors. In March, the app began showing young users signing up to Instagram a message detailing the benefits of having a private account. Now, all minors will have their account switched to private by default.
The company also stated that it deals with problematic users who interact with those under 16 years of age.
The social media company admitted that it could identify predatory behavior from accounts based on its activities.
This means that the app knows if the account has been blocked or reported by a younger user.
Instagram will separate these users with suspicious behavior from users under 16.
They won't be shown under the "Account Suggested For You" pages, Reels, and Explore, nor will they see comments from minors, even on other people's posts.
They also won't be able to comment under the posts of younger users.
Instagram's head of public policy, Karina Newton, said that the company is trying to figure out if an adult is exhibiting predatory behavior.
Some uses may find themselves restricted from interacting with minors on the app even if they have not broken any rules.
Newton told NBC News that if that happens because the app detected activities that made the system look at them more deeply and has restricted their account as a precaution.
In the past, Instagram would identify suspicious accounts and warn young users when they receive a direct message from one of those accounts.
Instagram has also blocked adults from messaging minors who don't follow them.
Newton added that Instagram is still working on setting a new set of rules for their users under 13. The company is consulting with experts in child development and privacy advocates to protect young users.
Facebook's New Rules for Minors
Instagram is not the only social media app taking the necessary steps to protect its young users. Facebook is also introducing changes to how advertisers can reach out to users under 18, according to 9to5 Mac.
Previously, any Facebook user can be targeted by advertisers based on their activities and interests. Advertisers analyze the user's app usage, web browsing history, online activities, interests, and more.
Now, advertisers will only be able to analyze the online activities of adult users. For users under 18, advertisers will only know their age, gender, and location. This new rule also applies to Messenger.
Facebook is also working on creating an app for children who are under 13. However, the announcement was met with criticism and complaints, and it is unclear if Facebook has discontinued the project, according to VOX.
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Written by Sophie Webster