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16th Mar 2021

Instagram bans adults from messaging users who are under 18

Adults will only be able to DM a teenager under the age of 18 if the teen follows them on the platform.

If an adult tries to DM a user under the age of 18 then they will receive a notification saying “You can’t message this account unless they follow you” as part of new measures to protect users under the age of 18.

The new measure is one of several new updates the platform is introducing to help protect younger users.

It will also send prompts to teenagers warning them about any accounts that are exhibiting suspicious behaviour, such as sending a large amount of messages to children using the app.

Users will then be given the option of stopping the conversation, or blocking and reporting the adult concerned.

In addition Instagram has announced that it will be making it more difficult for suspicious accounts to follow under-18s, by preventing them from viewing teen accounts in parts of the app such as Explore and Reels.

Of course these new measures rely on users giving a correct date of birth for their account, in order for the platform to know their age. Instagram policy states that users must be age 13 or older in order to create an account.

The platform has therefore also announced that they will be addressing the issue of new users giving a fake date of birth in order to bypass the age requirement.

The social media giant has said that it is ‘developing new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help us keep teens safer and apply new age-appropriate features’.

Instagram will also be making a deliberate effort to encourage users under 18 to make their accounts private. When they set up an account, they will be given the option to make it private. If they choose to not opt for this they will then receive a notification later making them aware of the benefits of having a private account.

The new features are only being implemented in selected countries at the moment, but will be made globally available in the near future.

Instagram has been under pressure for some time now to do more to protect its younger users, and it is certainly refreshing to see one of the major social media platforms putting in place a range of features and measures that aim to do just that.

There is certainly still much more to be done to protect teenagers and other vulnerable users from the dangers that social media can bring, but this is a step in the right direction.