Instagram's new settings to protect teens

Source: 1News

Instagram's rolling out a suite of new settings to help protect its younger users across New Zealand and Australia, including attempts to "soft-block" older users with "potentially suspicious behaviour".

A person 'like's a photo on Instagram.

Currently, the social media site's terms and conditions allow for those aged 13 and up to sign up for public accounts on the site.

As part of the new settings, announced by parent company Facebook today, accounts created by those 13-16 years old will default to private rather than public.

Posts by private accounts don't show up in the majority of Instagram's searches, only able to be seen by those who follow the account. Followers are manually approved by the account owner.

Those aged 16-18 will be prompted with a message suggesting the boosted privacy from going private, Facebook says.

"During testing, eight out of 10 young people accepted the private default settings during sign-up."

Meanwhile another new setting announced today won't arrive in New Zealand until a later date, but is launching in Australia among other countries today.

"We've developed new technology that allows us to find accounts that have shown potentially suspicious behaviour and stop those accounts from interacting with young people's accounts," Facebook says.

"Using this technology, now we won't show young people's accounts in Explore, Reels or 'Accounts Suggested For You' to these adults."

Those users also wouldn't be able to follow young users by searching their usernames, comment on young people's posts or see young people's comments on other posts, according to Facebook.

Hiding content from specific users without alerting them is a practice commonly referred to as "soft-blocking" online, compared to a "hard block" which alerts the person being blocked.

If someone was blocked by multiple youth accounts in a short period, that could trigger the "potentially suspicious behaviour" flag, Facebook says.

The social media giant declined to detail what else flags a user as "suspicious behaviour" or what the appeals process would be if you were mistakenly flagged.

Also this week, Facebook announced it was sponsoring Netsafe's Netsafety Week, with Facebook NZ's head of policy, Nick McDonnell, saying it's part of a long-standing partnership.

"We want young people to enjoy using Instagram while making sure we never compromise on their privacy and safety," he told 1 NEWS. 

"Privacy is one of our top priorities, and we’ll continue listening to young people, their parents, lawmakers and industry experts to build platforms and experiences that safeguard our entire community."

Facebook is also reducing the extent of targeted advertising that can be delivered to young users, removing interest- and activity-based targeting from users under 18 across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.