Privacy is paramount to making sure users feel safe on a platform, and is a very topical subject right now.

In a recent Hootsuite study, 40.2% of New Zealanders said they were worried about how companies use their personal data online. Instagram has announced the rollout of a new update which upgrades the privacy experience of users under 18. 

There are three main changes to the experience; 

  • Defaulting young people into private accounts when they first join Instagram,. 
  • Limiting the opportunities for advertisers to display ads to younger people, and
  • Introducing new measures to stop unwanted contact targeted at users under 18.

So, what are these changes? Let’s dive in. 

Private accounts

Accounts that are created with a user age younger than 16 will automatically default to the ‘Private Account’ setting. This means these accounts will have limited visibility on Instagram; The profile can be found via search, but when the account is shown, it will only show the profile’s chosen profile picture, number of posts, and follower and following count. The user viewing from the outside can’t view any of the profiles that they are following or following, and they also can’t see the posts. This can prevent unwanted contact from strangers on the platform.

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Instagram is changing the way that advertisers can reach younger people with their ads. For all users under 18, advertisers will only be able to target them using their age, gender and location, removing interest-based or browsing behaviour options. This change comes after youth advocates advised that young people may not be as well equipped to make informed decisions about ads they’re served. 

A recent study by Reset Australia reports that users between the ages of 13 to 17 were being targeted for ads that included drinking, smoking, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. These changes will take place across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger as a precautionary approach in how advertisers will be able to reach younger people with ads. Restricting these options to advertisers reduces the chance of targeting age-inappropriate ads for those younger than 18.

Stopping Unwanted Contact

In addition to encouraging younger users to set their accounts to private, Instagram also announced that they have also developed new technology to prevent potentially suspicious behaviour.

This technology works by tracking accounts that have recently been blocked or reported by a young person. In turn, Instagram will then be able to restrict young people’s visibility to these tracked accounts. These accounts will then not be able to find young people’s accounts in the Explore Page or Reels, and they won’t be able to search young people’s accounts by username. An extensive report on all the features of this new technology can be found here.

It’s natural for us to want our young ones to be super safe out there in the world, and the online world as well. These updates that are rolling out across Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger are a great step towards protecting young people from potentially suspicious activity. We were keen to share this information since we’re all about internet safety- anything to do with it is a big win.

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