Facebook's photo-sharing app Instagram will now ensure that all users under the age of 16 who are connected to the platform have their accounts set to private by default. It will also change how advertisers can reach younger audiences and limit targets to just three metrics.
For users who are under 16 and already with a public account on Instagram, the platform will not force them to go private. Instead, it will show them a notification highlighting the benefits of a private account and how to change their privacy settings.
Karina Newton, Director of Public Policy - Instagram, said: "We've developed a new technology that allows us to search for accounts that have shown potentially suspicious behavior and prevent those accounts from interacting with young people's accounts. By potentially suspicious behavior, we mean accounts that belong to adults that may have been recently blocked or reported by a young person.”
Instagram will no longer show accounts and reels of young people in the 'For You' tab to adults who have been identified as "potentially suspicious".
Emphasis on personal accounts
According to Instagram's testing, eight out of ten young people accepted the private default settings during sign-up. The changes will apply to all users in Southeast Asia and India and will see a prompt to enter their age upon joining the platform. However, these users will always have the option to switch to a public account.
With a private account, only their followers can comment, such as on users' posts, stories, and reels. Can't see other users' content on the platform in places like Explore or Hashtags when someone has a private account.
Also, if a suspected adult account were to enter a username to search for a young person's account, they would not be shown results. Instagram says they will "continue to look for additional places where it can implement this technology."
She stressed that these 'suspicious' individuals may not have broken rules on the platform, which would have qualified to be banned outright, but that their behavior sent some signals, which were picked up by security systems.
These changes will be rolled out in the US, Australia, France, the UK, and Japan to begin with, and will be expanded to more countries soon.
Advertisers will not be able to target accounts of users under the age of 18 years based on user interest or their activity on other apps and websites. According to Instagram, this information will no longer be available to advertisers. These changes will be global and apply to Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger. Instagram will allow only three criteria for ads to target users under the age of 18: age, gender, and location.