Instagram has introduced new features aimed particularly at the youngest members of the community. While kids under 13 will still be able to lie about their age easily, Instagram is trying to keep the potential predators away from them.
While registering on Instagram technically isn’t allowed for kids under 13, it’s still fairly easy for them to lie about their age. “While many people are honest about their age, we know that young people can lie about their date of birth,” Instagram writes. “We want to do more to stop this from happening, but verifying people’s age online is complex and something many in our industry are grappling with.”
So, since kids will probably continue to lie about their age, Instagram wants to protect them from dangers, at least. And to be fair, those older than 13 need to be protected as well. Therefore, from now on, some adults won’t be able to send direct messages to teens. More precisely, adults won’t be able to message Instagram users under 18 who don’t follow them.
Additionally, Instagram will also start using “safety notices” to increase teens’ caution. These prompts should encourage them to be careful when messaging back and forth with adults they’re already connected to. “Safety notices in DMs will notify young people when an adult who has been exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior is interacting with them in DMs,” Instagram writes. Here’s an example:
“For example, if an adult is sending a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18, we’ll use this tool to alert the recipients within their DMs and give them an option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult. People will start seeing these in some countries this month, and we hope to have them available everywhere soon.”
Instagram has also introduced a new Parents Guide in collaboration with The Child Mind Institute and ConnectSafely in the US. In Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, and Singapore, Instagram collaborated with local expert partners. The updated Parents Guide will be rolled out in more countries soon. “It includes the latest safety tools and privacy settings, as well as a list of tips and conversation starters to help parents navigate discussions with their teens about their online presence,” Instagram explains.
While I support every attempt to protect kids from the terrors of the outside world, I see a potential loophole in this system. Just like kids can lie about their birth date – so can adults. Therefore, the DM limitations might only solve a small portion of a huge problem. This is why I even find those “safety notices” to be a better solution. And above all, I believe that educating kids and their open communication with parents are the most important links in this chain.
[via The Verge]