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Photo credit: CLAUDIO SCHWARZ VIA UNSPLASH

Instagram makes accounts for users under 16 private by default

The new changes and features were introduced to ensure a safe and private experience for young users.

Noreen Shazreen

Probably the coolest cat lady you’ll ever meet.


Published: 28 July 2021, 12:22 PM

As part of a move to provide a pleasant and safe experience for young users, Instagram has made accounts for those under 16 private by default starting Tuesday (Jul 27).

Under this new policy, anyone under 16 (or under 18 in certain countries) will automatically have a private account when they join Instagram. However, the option to switch to a public account is still available.

Young users will be able to make new friends and keep in touch with their families without dealing with unwanted direct messages (DMs) or comments from strangers. 

Instagram has been moving toward making accounts safer for younger users for some time. In March, it introduced several new updates and features as part of its ongoing efforts to keep members of the community safe.

 

Users under the age of 16 with a public account will receive a prompt from Instagram encouraging them to switch to a private account. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM

 

With a private Instagram account, a user’s posts, Stories, and Reels are only visible to approved followers unless they choose to allow others to reshare their content. Those who do not follow the private account are unable to comment on a user’s content, nor will they see it on Instagram’s Explore page and hashtags.

Besides making accounts for those under 16 private by default, Instagram also limits interactions between suspicious accounts and young users.

The company has devised a new technology that allows users to identify accounts that might be suspicious ― such as accounts belonging to adults that may have been blocked or reported by a young person. Instagram will virtually separate suspicious accounts from users under 16, so they will be unable to interact with accounts belonging to young people.

Moreover, those with suspicious accounts will not be able to follow and see comments from young people on other people’s posts. They will also not be able to leave a comment themselves. 

Instagram launched this new technology in places such as the United States, Australia, France, the United Kingdom and Japan, and is hoping to expand into more countries shortly.

In addition, Instagram is also introducing changes to how advertisers can reach users under the age of 18.

Previously, advertisers could target users based on their interests or activities on other apps and websites.

In the coming few weeks, advertisers will only be able to target ads to users under 18 (or older in certain countries) based on their age, gender and location. These changes will be global and applicable across platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Messenger.

“We want young people to enjoy using Instagram while making sure we never compromise on their privacy and safety. We’ll continue listening to them, their parents, lawmakers and experts to build an Instagram that works for young people and is trusted by parents,” the company said.


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