Meta Platforms introduced steps to limit teens’ ability to see potentially sensitive content on Instagram and Facebook earlier this month. Now, the social media company has announced new restrictions to help protect teens from unwanted contact on Instagram and Facebook through stricter private message settings. Meta will enable fresh DM (direct messages) restrictions on both Facebook Messenger and Instagram for users aged under 18 years to prevent messages from people they do not follow. The move comes in the light of increased scrutiny from governing bodies.
Through a blog post on Thursday (January 25), Meta announced that it is bringing stricter private messaging settings for teen users. The social media giant will block unwanted contact by turning off teens’ ability to receive DMs on Instagram and Messenger from anyone they do not follow or aren’t connected to, by default. On Messenger, users aged under 16 years and below 18 years in some countries will only receive messages from their Facebook friends or people they are connected through phone contacts.
With the latest default setting, teens can only be messaged or added to group chats by people they already follow or are connected to. Teens in supervised accounts will have to get their parents’ permission to change this setting. Meta said the change is part of its efforts to provide “age-appropriate experiences for teens” across its apps.
The new limits will apply to all users aged under 16 years or 18 years in select countries. Meta confirmed that it will notify existing users about the change.
The Mark Zuckerberg-led company already restrict adults over the age of 19 years from messaging teens who don’t follow them. Meta earlier limited the type and number of DMs people can send to someone who doesn’t follow them to one text-only message.
Further, Meta is now offering parents using its existing supervision tools the ability to approve or deny their teenagers’ requests to change their default privacy and safety settings. “For example, if a teen using supervision tries to change their account from private to public, change their Sensitive Content Control from “Less” to “Standard”, or – now – tries to change their DM settings to hear from people they’re not already following or connected to, their parent will receive a notification prompting them to approve or deny the request”, Meta said.
Furthermore, Meta added that it would add more features designed to protect teens from seeing unwanted and potentially inappropriate images in their messages from people they’re already connected to. The company assured to reveal more about this functionality later this year.
The new teen safety measures come as Meta is facing pressure from regulators around the globe to limit potentially harmful content on its platforms.