Instagram wants to make its platform safer for young users. The Facebook-owned app has announced that it will, by default, set the new accounts of those under 16 years of age as “private”. This means followers will need to get the user’s approval first before having access to their photos and videos.
Instagram says it found eight out of ten young people accepted the private default settings during sign-up. "We want them to easily make new friends and keep up with their family, but we don’t want them to deal with unwanted DMs or comments from strangers. We think private accounts are the right choice for young people, but we recognise some young creators might want to have public accounts to build a following. We want to strike the right balance of giving young people all the things they love about Instagram while also keeping them safe,” Instagram said. The company, therefore, is making three key changes.- Defaulting young people into private accounts.
- Limiting the options advertisers have to reach young people with ads.
Private accounts let people control who sees or responds to their content. If you have a private account, people have to follow you to see your posts, Stories and Reels unless you choose to allow others to share your content in Stories or DMs. People also cannot comment on your content in those places, and they won’t see your content at all in places like Explore or hashtags.
For young people who already have a public account on Instagram, the app will drop a notification highlighting the benefits of a private account and explaining how to change their privacy settings. Users can still switch to a public account or keep their current account public if they wish.
Instagram will also make it harder for “certain adults” to find accounts of young users. It has developed a new technology that will allow Instagram to find accounts that have shown potentially suspicious behaviour and stop those accounts from interacting with young people’s accounts. “By “potentially suspicious behaviour”, we mean accounts belonging to adults that may have recently been blocked or reported by a young person for example,” Instagram said. If they find young people’s accounts by searching for their usernames, they won’t be able to follow them. Such users will also not be able to see comments from young people on other people’s posts.The changes are being rolled out in the US, Australia, France, the UK and Japan. Instagram is working on rolling out these changes in other countries as well.