Instagram has announced new updates that would be made to the experience of users under the age of 16, following the flak received when they announced a version of Instagram for juvenile users.
In March 2021, Instagram launched a few updates for uses under 16 such as guides, age-appropriate tools, more features to restrict older users from reaching out to the younger members, and more resources to improve the online safety of kids on the platform.
The version of Instagram for kids raised concerns and an international coalition of 35 organizations and 64 individual experts, coordinated by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a Boston-based nonprofit organization, urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to cancel plans to launch a version of Instagram for children. As users under 13 would be put at risk, with issues and concerns regarding privacy, mental health, screen time, self-esteem, and commercial pressure, were few of the issues raised.
With the revised updates young users would be defaulted into private accounts, options for advertisers to reach these users with ads would be limited. Instagram also mentions that it would be more difficult for potentially suspicious accounts to find young people.
Users who are under the age of 16 or under 18 in certain countries will be defaulted into a private account when they join Instagram. Users would still have the option to change the privacy setting to ‘Public’ but instead of asking the users to choose between both options when they sign-up, the users would have their accounts private.
Instagram has developed a new technology that enables them to spot accounts belonging to adults that show “potentially suspicious behavior” such as being reported or blocked by a young person for example.
The accounts of users under the age of 16 would also not show up in Explore, Reels, or ‘Accounts Suggested For You’ to these adults that have shown suspicious behavior. The adults will also not be able to follow juvenile users if they are searched by user name.
Such adults also won’t be able to see comments from these users or leave comments on their posts. The changes have been rolled out in the US, Australia, France, UK, Japan, and would be rolled out to more countries.
Advertisers will only be allowed to target ads to users under the age of 18 (or older in certain countries) on targeting options such as their age, gender, and location. Interests or on their activity on other apps and websites, and more of such options would also not be available to advertisers for these users.
The update would be applicable for all advertisers globally on Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger. When the users turn 18 they will be notified about the additional targeting options that advertisers could now use to reach them.