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Facebook unveils changes designed to make Instagram safer, more private for young users

SINGAPORE — In a bid to make Instagram a safer and more private experience for young people, everyone aged under 16 who joins the photo-sharing application will get a private account by default “starting this week”, its owner Facebook said on Wednesday (July 28). This will include people under the age of 16 in Singapore.

Facebook unveils changes designed to make Instagram safer, more private for young users

For young people who already have a public Instagram account, Facebook said that they will receive a notification highlighting the benefits of a private account.

  • Instagram owner Facebook said it wanted to make the photo-sharing app safer and more private for young people
  • Anyone under 16 signing up for Instagram would get a private account by default starting the week of July 26
  • Facebook is also rolling out technology to help stop those with suspicious accounts from interacting with young people

 

SINGAPORE — In a bid to make Instagram a safer and more private experience for young people, everyone aged under 16 who joins the photo-sharing application will get a private account by default “starting this week”, its owner Facebook said on Wednesday (July 28). This will include people under the age of 16 in Singapore.

For "certain countries", this will apply to people under 18 instead of 16, though Facebook did not give more details on which countries.

For young online users who already have a public Instagram account, Facebook said that they will receive a notification highlighting the benefits of a private account. Facebook will also explain how users may change their privacy settings.

In a news release, Facebook stressed that it would still give young people the choice to switch to a public account or keep their current account public “if they wish”.

“Wherever we can, we want to stop young people from hearing from adults they don’t know, or that they don’t want to hear from,” it said.

“We believe private accounts are the best way to prevent this from happening.”

Facebook said that private accounts let the users control who sees or responds to their content.

“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.” 

In addition, Facebook said that it has developed “new technology” that allows it to find accounts that have shown potentially suspicious behaviour and to stop these accounts from interacting with young people’s accounts.

These suspicious accounts are those that may have recently been blocked or reported by a young person.

Using the technology, Facebook will not show the accounts of the young people in the Explore, Reels or “Accounts Suggested For You” sections of Instagram to these adults.

“If (adult users) find young people’s accounts by searching for their usernames, they won’t be able to follow them. They also won’t be able to see comments from young people on other people’s posts, nor will they be able to leave comments on young people’s posts.” 

The changes will apply in Australia, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States for a start and will be expanded to more countries “soon”.

TODAY has reached out to Facebook to inquire when the rollout of the new technology — which detects accounts with potentially suspicious behaviour — will affect Singapore users.

In the same release, Facebook said that it is making changes to how advertisers can reach young people with advertisements. These changes will be worldwide and apply to Instagram, Facebook and Messenger.

“Starting in a few weeks, we’ll only allow advertisers to target advertisements to people under 18 (or older in certain countries) based on their age, gender and location,” it said.

“This means that previously available targeting options, like those based on interests or on their activity on other apps and websites, will no longer be available to advertisers.”

Facebook noted that it has already given its users ways to tell them that they would rather not see advertisements based on their interests or other activities through controls within ad settings.

“But we've heard from youth advocates that young people may not be well-equipped to make these decisions… When young people turn 18, we’ll notify them about targeting options that advertisers can now use to reach them and the tools we provide to them to control their ad experience.” 

Related topics

social media Facebook Instagram Youth privacy safety

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