Meta is rolling out new features on Instagram and Facebook to protect minors from online predators. Meta also said that it is working on new tools to prevent the re-sharing of intimate images of minors and to minimize contact with suspicious accounts.
Both Facebook and Instagram require users to be at least 13 years old to create an account. However, in some countries, the minimum age is higher. For such users, Meta provides settings that protect them from unwanted contact by adults and also ensure that their social media interaction is appropriate for their age.
The new features announced by Meta on Monday are part of that age-appropriate experience.
For instance, users under the age of 16 or (18 in certain countries) will have access to more private settings by default when they join Facebook. This feature is already available to users on Instagram.
For users who already have an account, Facebook will show a new feature called suggested settings that are appropriate for their age.
For example, under “ Who is allowed to comment on your public posts” the default option for most users is public. If a minor enables the suggested settings button, the option will be switched from public to friends.
Further, Meta said that it is testing new tools that will prevent minors from sending messages to suspicious accounts linked to an adult they are not connected to. Profiles of unknown adults will also not show in “people you may know suggestions.” According to Meta, accounts that have been recently blocked or flagged by a minor will be deemed suspicious.
Meta is also building new tools in collaboration with partners to protect minors who have shared their intimate photos online and are at risk of being harassed or blackmailed. The social media company said that it is working with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to build a global platform, which will prevent the non-consensual sharing of intimate images belonging to minors. This will be similar to another platform that was built to prevent sharing of intimate images of adult users by other users and companies.
Meta said that it is also working with organizations such as Thorn to create educational content that will help teenagers overcome the shame and stigma over intimate images and encourage them to seek help.