Instagram to make accounts of users under 16 years private

Instagram to make accounts of users under 16 years private
Photo Credit: Reuters
28 Jul, 2021

Facebook owned video and photo sharing social media giant Instagram will now compulsorily make all profiles of users under 16 years of age private in an attempt to increase user safety.  

“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,” the company said in a blog post.  

However, Instagram said that it recognised some young creators who might want to own public accounts to build a following.  

The rollout of the new feature is expected to first kick in the US, Australia, France, the UK and Japan, the company will then look to expand the feature into other geographies.  

Apart from the age limit, the company said that it will also make it harder for potentially suspicious accounts to find young people, along with limiting the options advertisers have to reach young people with advertisements.   

Private accounts in Instagram lets the user control who responds or views their content. The private accounts will also not show up in the explore page or under any of the hashtag searches. 

“During testing, eight out of ten young people accepted the private default settings during sign-up,” Instagram said in its blog post.  

Read: Instagram tests new ‘collab’ tool for creators in India 

However, the choice will ultimately be with end users on whether they would like to go public or private with their profiles.  

“In particular, using machine learning to understand when it might not be appropriate for an adult to interact with a teen puts teens in the driver's seat as far as who they interact with,” Larry Magid, CEO of ConnectSafely, a non-profit that has been dedicated to educating families, educators and young people about technology and safety online, said.  

Instagram said that it has developed new technology to find accounts that show potentially suspicious behaviour. The company defined suspicious behaviour as accounts belonging to adults who might have been recently blocked or reported by a younger user.