Instagram announces update limiting "sensitive content" to teens

Menlo Park, California - Instagram has updated some safety controls for teenagers so they are less likely to encounter potentially sensitive content on the site.

Instagram has been facing scrutiny for its potentially harmful effects on young users.
Instagram has been facing scrutiny for its potentially harmful effects on young users.  © AFP

The Meta-owned platform said that when new users under 16 join the site, they will have more sensitive content hidden from them by default.

The change will also see existing users under that age prompted to update their own account to bring it in line with this new setting, which is what Instagram calls its Sensitive Content Control.

Instagram says the tool makes it more difficult for young people to come across sensitive content or accounts across all areas of the platform, including search results and suggested accounts.

"The Sensitive Content Control has only two options for teens: 'Standard' and 'Less.' New teens on Instagram under 16 years old will be defaulted into the 'Less' state. For teens already on Instagram, we will send a prompt encouraging them to select the 'Less' experience," the social media platform said in a blog post.

"This will make it more difficult for young people to come across potentially sensitive content or accounts in Search, Explore, Hashtag Pages, Reels, Feed Recommendations, and Suggested Accounts."

Instagram taking more steps after sustained criticism

The latest announcement comes as social media platforms continue to face scrutiny over the work they do to protect users – particularly children and young people – from potentially harmful content.

Governments and regulators around the world are also working on regulations that would force firms to do more to protect users and could see large fines or access to sites blocked if they fail to do so.

As part of its announcement, Instagram also confirmed it was testing a new feature that would prompt and remind teenage users to think about their privacy settings on the platform.

"We’ll show prompts asking teens to review their settings including: controlling who can reshare their content, who can message and contact them, what content they can see and how they can manage their time spent on Instagram," the company said.

"These updates are some of the ways we are working to protect teens on Instagram."

Cover photo: AFP

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