As much as Instagram has been working to bolster safety for its users of late, there’s no denying that it still has a ways to go in that arena, particularly when it comes to younger folks.
Unfortunately, many unwanted followers and DMs have found their way onto a minor’s account before. Instagram has countermeasures against this in place, it often falls on the user to enable them, and younger users might not think to or know how. In light of this, as of today, Instagram is making all accounts for users under 16 years old (and 18 in some places) private by default.
Instagram takes young users’ privacy into its own hands
“Wherever we can, we want to stop young people from hearing from adults they don’t know, or that they don’t want to hear from,” reads Instagram’s announcement. “We believe private accounts are the best way to prevent this from happening. So starting this week, everyone who is under 16 years old (or under 18 in certain countries) will be defaulted into a private account when they join Instagram.”
For those out of the know, a public account can be followed and receive DMs from just about anybody, mostly undeterred. If you DM or follow a private account, the account holder is able to approve or deny your message or follow before anything else happens. This means they can bar entry to any account that seems suspicious or is simply unknown to them.
Previously, all users would have to manually make their accounts private, a process some younger users may not see the need for. This puts the measure in place automatically.
Now, while this does make ‘private’ the default setting for minors to begin with, it’s not permanent. They can still make their accounts public again if they want to. Instagram has added another safety net for just such a case.
The social media platform has, “developed new technology that will allow [it] to find accounts that have shown potentially suspicious behaviour and stop those accounts from interacting with young people’s accounts.”
“Potentially suspicious behaviour” refers to accounts belonging to adults that have recently been reported or blocked by a young person.
Specifically, young people’s accounts won’t show up in these adults’ feeds, Explore page, Reels, or ‘Accounts Suggested For You’ tab. These adults also won’t be able to search for young accounts by name, and won’t be able to see comments from young people or leave comments on their pages.
These new updates are coming to Instagram users in the US, Australia, the UK, Japan, and France today, and will roll out to other countries in the coming weeks.