Instagram has today announced some major changes to its platform for younger users, including a move that will make it much harder to find teenagers on the platform.
The company says that it wants to keep Instagram fun whilst also being safe and private, and that young people should not have to deal with unsolicited DMs or comments from strangers. Facebook says that it believes private accounts for users “are the right choice for young people”, but that it also wants to give young creators with public accounts the choice. That’s why, starting today, the company is going to default young people to private accounts:
Wherever we can, we want to stop young people from hearing from adults they don’t know or don’t want to hear from. 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.
That means young people can control who sees their content, and Facebook says the vast majority of its younger users prefer this anyway:
Historically, we asked young people to choose between a public account or a private account when they signed up for Instagram, but our recent research showed that they appreciate a more private experience. During testing, eight out of ten young people accepted the private default settings during sign-up.
Young users who already have public accounts will get a notification giving them the option.
The company is also going to make it harder for “certain adults” who have shown “potentially suspicious behavior” to find the accounts of young people:
We’ve developed new technology that will allow us to find accounts that have shown potentially suspicious behavior and stop those accounts from interacting with young people’s accounts. By “potentially suspicious behavior”, we mean accounts belonging to adults that may have recently been blocked or reported by a young person, for example.
This change is coming to the U.S., Australia, France, UK, and Japan to begin with.
Finally, it is also limiting the type of adverts that can be targeted at younger people:
Starting in a few weeks, we’ll only allow advertisers to target ads to people under 18 (or older in certain countries) based on their age, gender and location. This means that previously available targeting options, like those based on interests or on their activity on other apps and websites, will no longer be available to advertisers. These changes will be global and apply to Instagram, Facebook and Messenger.
Facebook has also today posted a separate article detailing how it monitors whether or not someone is old enough to use its platform.