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Facebook is implementing safeguards to protect younger users

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Facebook will be implementing several features in Instagram to protect its younger users (under 16 years) on Tuesday. The company also announced that it’d be implementing AI features to discourage users younger than 13 years old from signing up on Instagram.

The new features include private accounts by default for users under 16 (or 18 for some countries), making it harder for potentially suspicious accounts to find younger people and limiting advertisers reach to young audiences.

“We want to strike the right balance of giving young people all the things they love about Instagram while also keeping them safe,” Facebook announced on Tuesday.

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Accounts will be private by default

Generally, users have a choice between public and private accounts when signing up on Instagram. However, according to the company, “during testing, eight out of ten young people accepted the private default settings during sign-up.”

Therefore, starting this week, everyone joining Instagram under 16 years old (or 18 in certain countries) will default to a private account. Teenagers already on the platform with public profiles will be shown a notification telling them the benefits of a private account and an option to switch.

Facebook is implementing safeguards to protect younger users

The company is also developing new technology that’ll allow them to find accounts that may have shown previously suspicious behaviour and stop them from getting in contact with young people’s accounts.

These ‘adult’ accounts won’t see any reels or account suggestions from young people’s accounts in their explore tab. Even if they manage to find an account through a search, they won’t follow them.

These changes are rolling out in the US, Australia, France, UK and Japan with more countries to be added soon.

Lastly, the platform is also limiting advertisers’ reach to younger audiences. Starting in a few weeks, advertisers will only target people under 18 years old (or older in certain countries) based on their age, gender and location. This means that previous factors such as interests and activities on other sites won’t be available to advertisers. These changes will apply globally to Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.

Discouraging younger audiences from joining

As per Facebook and Instagram terms, only people 13 or older can sign up for the respective platforms. The company has now announced a new AI technology that’ll detect whether or not an underage person has signed up on the platform.

The technology is trained using multiple signals such as messages mentioned age or birthdays. It’s also going to look into the age you’ve shared on Facebook and other platforms that may be linked to your Instagram and Facebook accounts. Meaning if one birthdate is shared on Facebook, the same will be used for Instagram.

Facebook is implementing safeguards to protect younger users

Facebook claims to partner with app developers, web browsers and OS providers to provide this data to better implement this technology. However, it’s ultimately upon the developers to provide the data they’re looking for to implement this system.

Not only this, but the company also announced that they’re building “experiences designed specifically for them, managed by parents and guardians.” This includes an Instagram for tweens,

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Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: