Instagram Announces Privacy Updates for Underage Users

Private accounts and less targeted ads

Instagram is making the experience for underage users much more private, with updates announced on Tuesday. 

The social network said in a blog post it will begin to automatically default any new user under the age of 16 to a private account. Instagram said current users in that age range with a public account will be able to keep it public. However, they will be encouraged about the benefits of having a private account. 

Preteen laying on the bed, using a smartphone in a dimly lit room.

Elva Etienne / Getty Images

"Historically, we asked young people to choose between a public account or a private account when they signed up for Instagram, but our recent research showed that they appreciate a more private experience. During testing, eight out of 10 young people accepted the private default settings during sign-up," Instagram wrote in its blog post announcing the new updates. 

Instagram is also implementing new technology designed to weed out accounts that have shown suspicious behavior towards younger users. so that they won’t show up in the Explore tab or in Reels. The company said these accounts include "accounts belonging to adults that may have recently been blocked or reported by a young person." 

"Instagram is also implementing new technology that would weed out accounts that have shown suspicious behavior towards younger users..."

Finally, the platform said it is limiting the options advertisers have to reach young people with ads. Advertisers will only be able to use targeted ads to people over 18 on Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger. 

Tuesday’s updates could be a push towards Instagram opening its platform to even younger users, specifically, those under 13. Instagram is said to be working on a separate platform geared toward kids under 13 as a way to better incorporate the generation that has grown up online. Experts say a kid-friendly platform could work if done right, with built-in safeguards and parental supervision.

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