File picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic
File picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

Instagram will no longer allow adults to DM teens who don’t follow them

By Masabata Mkwananzi Time of article published Mar 17, 2021

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Photo-sharing app Instagram has introduced new policies to protect its young users from interacting with adults on the platform.

The Facebook-owned app Instagram has banned adults from sending direct messages to teenagers who do not follow them. This will be done by introducing a new feature that will prevent adults from sending messages to people under the age of 18.

Instagram says this will be done in a way that if an adult tries to DM a teen who does not follow them back, they will receive a notification stating that ‘DM’ing them isn’t an option.’

This is thanks to machine learning technology using information given to them by users when signing for the app. The account holder of an Instagram user starts at the age of 13 or older.

“This feature relies on our work to predict peoples’ ages using machine learning technology, and the age people give us when they sign up. As we move to end-to-end encryption, we’re investing in features that protect privacy and keep people safe without accessing the content of DMs,” the company said in a blog post.

Instagram does acknowledge that people may give wrong information about their ages and that is something that is grappling with the social media industry. And to solve this they have developed new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help them keep teens safer.

The company says it is exploring other ways of making it difficult for adults who have been exhibiting potentially suspicious behaviour to interact with teens by restricting them from seeing teen accounts in 'Suggested Users', preventing them from discovering teen content in Reels or Explore, and automatically hiding their comments on public posts by teens.

New teenagers who sign up for Instagram will also be encouraged to make their profile private. If however, they choose to create a public account then Instagram will send them notifications highlighting the benefits of a private account and reminding them to check their settings.


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