Instagram is to stop adults being able to contact teenagers who do not follow them as part of new safety measures aimed at protecting young people. Under new rules, over-18s will be blocked from sending a direct message to any Instagram user under that age if that account does not already follow them.
The social network will also be sending safety alerts to users under 18 to encourage them to be cautious having conversations with adults they are already connected to but have displayed potentially suspicious behavour.
Suspicious behaviour can include sending a large amount of friend or message requests.
In addition, Instagram will also make it more difficult for adults to find and follow teenagers on the platform by restricting teen accounts appearing in the Suggested Users section of the app and hiding content from young users in both Reels and Explore.
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Young users are being encouraged to make their accounts private.
Instagram has also acknowledged that some young people were lying about how old they are in order to set up a page. As part of the new safety measures, the platform is developing new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help it identify the real age of younger users.
Instagram currently requires all users to be at least 13-years-old to have an account.
Companies are under continued scrutiny from industry experts and campaigners warning about the dangers for young people online.
The Government is set to introduce an Online Safety Bill later this year, which is expected to introduce stricter regulation around protecting young people online and harsh punishments for platforms found to be failing to meet a duty of care. Regulations will be overseen by Ofcom