There is a diverse population of Instagram users, including senior citizens, middle aged adults, young adults, and teenagers. Instagram plans to protect minors by setting up a digital barrier that will prevent them from receiving Direct Messages (popularly referred to as DMs) from adults that they do not follow. Children are able to bypass the compulsory 13 years of age requirement for having an Instagram account by lying about their ages, and because of this, are exposed to potential danger.
Questionable adults will no longer be able to send DMs to teenagers that are not following them. Instagram plans on enforcing this by improving its ability to identify a user’s age. They plan on developing a ‘new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology’ to detect age when a new user signs up for an Instagram account.
Instagram explained that the proposed AI-enabled firewall will notify an adult who tries to message a teenager who doesn’t follow them that private messaging them is not an option. The goal is to desist the adult from trying to sending another message. In a case where contact must be made, such a person can choose an alternative way of communicating.
Instagram is involving parents and guardians in its new safety initiative. Its revised Parents Guides now beseeches adults and guardians to supervise how their teens use Instagram at home. Instagram is also encouraging teen users of the app to not accept DM requests/messages from adults whose activities seem suspicious.
Instagram explained, ‘Safety notices in DMs will notify young people when an adult who has been exhibiting potentially suspicious behaviour is interacting with them in DMs’. Instagram says it will make it more difficult for these adults to find and follow teens on the app. It will make use of this new security tool to alert user’s within their DMs of any user who seems suspicious and will give them the option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult. Instagram says teens will be encouraged to switch to private mode, but will not make it compulsory. For those who choose not to, Instagram plans on cajoling them into switching to a private account by highlighting the benefits of a private account and reminding them to check their settings.