Instagram to Restrict Direct Messages Between Teens and Adults

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Facebook-owned social media platform Instagram will start restricting direct messages between teen users and adults they do not follow as part of the platform’s teen-focused safety updates.

The Hill reports that Instagram will soon begin restricting direct messages between teen users and adults they do not follow. The change is part of a recent series of teen-focused safety updates to the platform.

Instagram currently requires users to be at least 13 years old to make an account, but the company has acknowledged that young users sometimes lie about their date of birth. The updates, which will use new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, reportedly aim to help keep teenagers “safer” and apply “age-appropriate” features to their accounts.

The app will prompt teen users to be more cautious about interacting with people via direct messages through safety notices. The prompts will notify teens when an adult who “has been exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior” is interacting with them via direct message.

An example given is if an adult Instagram user is sending a large number of friend requests or messages to users under 18, Instagram will alert the recipients and give them an option to close the conversation, block, report, or restrict their interactions with the adult user.

Larry Magid, CEO of ConnectSafely, said in a statement:

There are cases where it is appropriate for ​adults and teens to interact on Instagram but it’s important that teens be protected against unwanted contact from adults.

Requiring that ​the teen – not the adult – establish the connection empowers teens to protect themselves. It puts them in the driver’s seat and gives them more control over their experiences on Instagram.

ConnectSafely and The Child Mind Institute worked with Instagram to publish a parents guide to educate parents on how to keep their children safe online. Instagram also stated that it was exploring ways to make it more difficult for adults who have been exhibiting “potentially suspicious behavior” to interact with teens.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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