Instagram Introduces New Protections for Teens

Published · Jul 29, 2021

Instagram introduces new protections for teens, following increasing concerns about the vulnerability of young users on social media sites. The new settings will make it harder for adults to initiate unwanted contact with underage individuals.

With this update, the accounts of under-18s signing up for the service will be set to private by default. In addition, Instagram has restricted the ability of advertisers to target underage users.

Advertisers will still be able to target teens based on their age, gender, and location. The ads won’t be tailored to their interests or website activity, however.

This restriction applies to Facebook and Messenger as well.

Promoters and Predators

Creating an environment that’s both safe and fun comes with competing challenges, explains Instagram in a blog post announcement. “We want to easily make new friends and keep up with their interests, but we don’t want them to deal with unwanted DMs or comments from strangers.”

Concerns about online privacy and threats from sanctioned and unsanctioned sources are increasing.

The sheer volume of data individuals put online makes it incredibly easy to conduct background checks or find someone on people search sites. While there are legitimate reasons for using data this way, i.e., employment recruiters vetting candidates, often it’s for nefarious purposes like ID theft.

People also feel uncomfortable being tracked by advertisers. Not to mention the access strangers have to them through social media in the form of unsolicited private messages or comments.

All these risks are amplified when the victims are younger people. Teens are less experienced and more impressionable than their older peers, making them prime targets for those with agendas.

Hopefully, Instagram’s new features, combined with existing ones, like preventing non-followers from messaging under-18s, will help protect teens.

The service has also developed a tool that can flag adult accounts as suspicious if they’ve been blocked or reported by multiple adolescents. Once marked, they’ll no longer see teen profiles on the account discovery tool.

The company also has plans to develop a platform specifically for younger users, but they were met with the necessary scrutiny.

Updates on these moves are sure to follow.

Garan van Rensburg
Garan van Rensburg

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.