Updated: July 28, 2021 5:36:09 pm
Instagram will now ensure that all those users under the age of 16 who join the platform will find their accounts set to private by default. It will also make changes to how advertisers can reach younger audiences and restrict targeting to just three metrics.
For users who are under 16 and already on Instagram with a public account, the platform will not force them to go private. Instead, it will show them a notification highlighting the benefits of a private account and explaining how to change their privacy settings.
Instagram will also stop adults whose activity has been labeled as suspicious from interacting with young people’s accounts, in attempts to keep potential child predators from connecting with younger audiences.
“We’ve developed a new technology that allows us to find accounts that have shown potentially suspicious behavior and to stop those accounts from interacting with young people’s accounts. By potentially suspicious behavior, we mean accounts that belong to adults that may have recently been blocked or reported by a young person,” Karina Newton, Public Policy Director – Instagram, said in a press briefing.
Instagram will no longer show young people’s accounts and Reels in the ‘For You’ tab to adults who have been identified as “potentially suspicious.”
Emphasis on private accounts
According to Instagram’s own testing, eight out of ten young people accepted the private default settings during sign-up. The changes will apply to all users in Southeast Asia and India and they will see a prompt to enter their age when joining the platform. However, these users will always have the option to switch to a public account.
With a private account, only approved followers can comment, like on a user’s posts, Stories, and Reels. Other people on the platform cannot see a user’s content in places like Explore or hashtags when one has a private account.
Further, if a suspicious adult account were to enter the username to search for a young person’s account, they will not be shown results. Instagram says they will “continue to look for additional places where it can apply this technology.”
“We have a number of protective measures that we have to help identify bad actors. We also announced earlier this year that we will not let unconnected adults from connecting with minors over messaging. And so this builds upon that,” Newton said.
She stressed that these ‘suspicious’ individuals might not have broken rules on the platform which would merit being banned entirely, but their behaviour has likely sent off some signals, which were picked up by the safety systems.
“We’re evaluating these signals on a very regular process and basis, as well as any additional accounts that are created by these suspicious users…These aren’t people who have necessarily broken our rules, they’re just engaged in some kind of activity that makes us want to out of an abundance of caution create a buffer between them and young people’s accounts,” she said.
These changes will start rolling out in the US, Australia, France, the UK, and Japan to start and will be expanded to more countries soon.
Advertisers will not be able to target accounts of users under 18 based on interests or on their activity on other apps and websites. This information will no longer be available to advertisers, according to Instagram. These changes will be global and apply to Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger. Instagram will only allow three criteria for targeting under 18 users for ads: age, gender, and location.
“We’re now taking this more precautionary approach on how advertisers can reach young people with ads. When people turn 18, we’ll send them a notification about targeting options that advertisers now can use to reach them and how they can control their ads experiences through ads preferences,” Newton said.
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