Facebook Will Now Create a Safer Instagram for Underage Users

By Bill Toulas / March 19, 2021

Facebook identifies the problem of children using social media platforms like Instagram as growing, and considering last year’s troubles with the Irish DPC investigations, doing something about it has been placed as a top priority. In that context, the data giant could be planning to create a platform that is dedicated to kids under the age of 13, keeping them safe and isolated from predation, abuse, bullying, and exposure to inappropriate content.

All Instagram users will first have to verify that they are at least 13 years old for this to work. Already, Instagram has been doing that with new signs ups for quite some time. Secondly, existing accounts representing someone under the age of 13 and are managed by a parent or someone else will have to be deleted. Users will be able to report these accounts to the platform, and action will be taken promptly.

Having separated adults, Instagram will launch a “Kids” space where people will still have to verify to avoid having adults with malicious intent joining in. To help with that, Instagram will deploy sophisticated AI and machine learning tech to keep everything under control. Instagram hasn’t specifically verified the launch of this special space, but it’s very unlikely that they’ll completely shut the door to this demographic.

To further protect users who are under 18 years of age and use the “regular” Instagram, the platform will restrict DMs between them and adults they don’t follow. This precaution and several others that have not been determined yet may be passed to the under-13 space too.

Moreover, young users will now get some safety notices when an adult who the AI has identified as potentially suspicious approaches them. The AI will have many ways to tell who’s exhibiting weird and potentially risky behavior, but details about that have been omitted to prevent overriding the tech.

Other protection measures include making it harder for adult users to find and follow teens, encouraging teens to make their accounts private, and strengthening the teenage privacy settings to give users more granular control. Until things actually start rolling out, the actual form and function remains a question, but it appears that Facebook has many ideas on how to make things safer for children online.

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