Instagram Announces New Safety Feature Banning Adults From DM’ing Children

In an effort to increase safety for its underage users, Instagram has announced a new feature that bans adult users from messaging underage users. In a blog post dated March 16, the company says that soon anyone over 18 will be unable to send DMs to anyone under 18 who doesn’t also follow them back. Any adult who does try to DM a minor who doesn’t follow them back will receive a notification that they’re unable to do so.

instagram safety feature

  1. Underage users will also receive a notification. Instagram won’t just tell the sender that contacting a minor isn’t an option, it’ll also pop up a reminder to the underage user to remind them to be careful about who they communicate with on the social media app, even if they’ve previously messaged with the adult in question. “Safety notices in DMs will notify young people when an adult who has been exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior is interacting with them in DMs,” Instagram said. “For example, if an adult is sending a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18, we’ll use this tool to alert the recipients within their DMs and give them an option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult.”
  2. The feature isn’t foolproof, of course. The safety setting is a massive step in helping to keep young people safe on Instagram, but its success relies on whether or not the adult user has set their real age when signing up for the account. Theoretically, they could undermine the policy by posing as a teenager themselves, thereby circumventing the measure. However, Instagram is working on this issue. The tech giant says it’s working on a process that would estimate a user’s age based on their profile image. Again, this would rely on the user uploading a real photo of themselves.
  3. At present, children under 13 aren’t allowed on Instagram. But just as adult users can lie about their age, there are plenty of kids under that age who set their birthdate to an earlier year in order to create accounts. “We want to do more to stop this from happening, but verifying people’s age online is complex and something many in our industry are grappling with. To address this challenge, we’re developing new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help us keep teens safer and apply new age-appropriate features,” the company says.
  4. Other measures are being tested as well. One such measure is Instagram asking users under the age of 18 upon sign-up whether or not they want their accounts to be public. At the moment, all accounts are automatically public unless the user goes into their settings and changes this. In addition, if adult users have been acting suspiciously, new tech may allow the app to keep teens from appearing in their Suggested or Explore areas.

instagram safety featureInstagram

Piper Ryan is a NYC-based writer and matchmaker who works to bring millennials who are sick of dating apps and the bar scene together in an organic and efficient way. To date, she's paired up more than 120 couples, many of whom have gone on to get married. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Cut, and many more.

In addition to runnnig her own business, Piper is passionate about charity work, advocating for vulnerable women and children in her local area and across the country. She is currently working on her first book, a non-fiction collection of stories focusing on female empowerment.