Instagram no longer allows adults to DM teens who don’t follow them

Safety prompts will give teenage users the option to report or block adults who are messaging them.


JOHANNESBURG – If you haven’t already heard, Instagram has introduced new policies to protect its young users from potential predators. The social media app banned adults from direct messaging teenagers who don’t follow them.

Speaking to John Maytham on Afternoon Drive on Thursday, World Wide Worx's managing director Arthur Goldstuck said this was a significant move because it was about responsibility.

“This is a long time coming because most kids getting into Instagram think they are being cool when everyone likes their content. Platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Tik-Tok where kids hang out are a hunting ground for predators.”

Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old. But people lie about their ages so it’s possible that a chat going on right now is between a 70-year old man and a 10-year old girl who don’t know each other.

If that creeps you out, it means you understand why Instagram wants to limit adult-teen DMs.

So, how will this work?

Goldstruck said the platform would use artificial intelligence to spot patterns of behaviour.

“They will use algorithms that use intensive software analysis to figure out whether you’re trying to con them or not, using patterns of writing. They will either flag you or ban you.”

New teenage users who sign up to Instagram will also now be encouraged to make their profile private. If they choose to create a public account anyway, Instagram will send them a notification later “highlighting the benefits of a private account and reminding them to check their settings.”

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