Instagram has unveiled new technology to prevent underage children from creating accounts and blocking adults from contacting young users they don’t know. The latest move responding to concerns about inappropriate contact between adults and children on the platform, which like most services, sets an age minimum of 13. Instagram will begin using artificial intelligence to determine a user’s age at signup to find underage users.

Instagram to use new tech to identify underage users

“While many people are honest about their age, we know that young people can lie about their date of birth. We want to do more to stop this from happening, but verifying people’s age online is complex and something many in our industry are grappling with,” a blog post said.

“To address this challenge, we’re developing new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help us keep teens safer and apply new age-appropriate features.”

Instagram to prevent unwanted conversation between adults and teenagers

Additionally, the California giant said it would introduce a new feature that prevents adults from sending messages to people under 18 who don’t follow them to prevent unwanted contact. Instagram says it will also start using prompts — or safety notices — to encourage teens to be cautious in conversations with adults they’re already connected to. At the time of signup, Instagram says it will also encourage users under 18 to keep their accounts private.

“This feature relies on our work to predict peoples’ ages using machine learning technology, and the age people give us when they sign up,” Instagram said.

Instagram is also looking at ways to make it more difficult for adults who have been exhibiting “potentially suspicious behavior” to interact with teens, including restricting these adults from seeing suggested teen accounts. Instagram will also restrict these adults from seeing teen accounts in ‘Suggested Users,’ preventing them from discovering teen content in Reels or Explore and automatically hiding their comments on public posts by teens. Instagram also indicated it would alert teens to potentially suspect behavior by adults, including sending large numbers of private messages.

“We’ll use this tool to alert the recipients… and give them an option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult,” Instagram said.

Instagram is making Parents Guide more widely available.

Additionally, in the US, Instagram has collaborated with The Child Mind Institute and ConnectSafely to publish a new Parents Guide. It includes the latest safety tools and privacy settings, as well as a list of tips and conversation starters to help parents navigate discussions with their teens about their online presence. This updated Guide was already launched in India last month.

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