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16th Mar 2021

Instagram bans adults from messaging users who are under 18

Charlie Herbert

Adults will only be able to DM a teenager under the age of 18 if the teenager follows them on the platform.

If an adult tries to DM a user under the age of 18 on Instagram, they will receive a notification saying “You can’t message this account unless they follow you” as part of new measures to protect users under the age of 18.

The new measure is one of several new updates the platform is introducing to help protect younger users.

It will also send prompts to teenagers warning them about any accounts that are exhibiting suspicious behaviour, such as sending a large amount of messages to children using the app.

Users will then be given the option of stopping the conversation, or blocking and reporting the adult concerned.

In addition, Instagram has announced that it will be making it more difficult for suspicious accounts to follow under-18s, by preventing them from viewing teen accounts in parts of the app, such as Explore and Reels.

Of course, these new measures rely on users giving a correct date of birth for their account, in order for the platform to know their age. Instagram policy states that users must be 13 or older in order to create an account.

The platform has therefore also announced that it will be addressing the issue of new users giving a fake date of birth in order to bypass the age requirement.

The social media giant has said that it is “developing new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help us keep teens safer and apply new age-appropriate features”.

Instagram will also be making a deliberate effort to encourage users under 18 to make their accounts private. When they set up an account, they will be given the option to make it private. If they choose to not opt for this, they will then receive a notification later making them aware of the benefits of having a private account.

The new features are only being implemented in selected countries at the moment, but will be made globally available in the near future.