Instagram makes under-16s' accounts private by default

Instagram makes under-16s’ accounts private by default to ‘create a safe experience’ – but confirms it is pushing ahead with new apps for under-13s

  • Under-16s will automatically have any new accounts set to private 
  • Accounts that are already public will get a notification urging them to go private
  • Instagram claims that the change is part of its drive to keep youngsters safe
  • However, Facebook has confirmed that it is pushing ahead with controversial plans to launch apps aimed at under-13s 

Instagram has announced that is making under-16s’ accounts private by default, as part of its drive to make the app ‘safe and private’ for young users.

Until now, new Instagram users’ account have been set as public, meaning anyone can see your profile and posts on Instagram.

However, going forwards, under-16s will have their accounts set to default, meaning only their approved followers will see their photos or videos.

In a blog announcing the update, Instagram explained: ‘Wherever we can, we want to stop young people from hearing from adults they don’t know, or that they don’t want to hear from. We believe private accounts are the best way to prevent this from happening.’

Despite this update, Facebook, which owns Instagram, has confirmed that is ploughing ahead with plans to launch new controversial apps aimed at under-13s.

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Going forwards, under-16s will have their accounts set to default, meaning only their approved followers will see their photos or videos

How to set your Instagram account to private 

By default, anyone can see your profile and posts on Instagram. You can make your account private so that only followers you approve can see what you share. 

If your account is set to private, only your approved followers will see your photos or videos on hashtag or location pages. 

1.  Open the Instagram app and tap your profile picture in the bottom right to go to your profile

2. Tap the three lines in the top right, then Settings

3. Tap Privacy

4. Tap next to Private Account to make your account private 

Instagram’s decision to make under-16s’ accounts private by default came after testing revealed that most youngsters were happy to use a private profile.

‘Historically, we asked young people to choose between a public account or a private account when they signed up for Instagram, but our recent research showed that they appreciate a more private experience,’ Instagram explained.

‘During testing, eight out of ten young people accepted the private default settings during sign-up.’

The change means that new Instagram users will automatically have their accounts set to private, while young people who already have a public account will be shown a notification highlighting the benefits of a private account.

‘We’ll still give young people the choice to switch to a public account or keep their current account public if they wish,’ Instagram added.

Additionally, Instagram has developed new technology to find ‘potentially suspicious’ accounts and prevent them from interacting with young people.

‘By “potentially suspicious behaviour”, we mean accounts belonging to adults that may have recently been blocked or reported by a young person for example,’ Instagram explained.

Despite these changes to keep youngsters safe, Facebook has confirmed that it is moving ahead with plans to launch new apps aimed at under-13s.

Speaking to the BBC, a Facebook spokesperson said: ‘The reality is that they are already online and, with no foolproof way to stop people from misrepresenting their age, we want to build experiences designed specifically for them, managed by parents and guardians.’  

Reports emerged earlier this year suggesting that Instagram had been working on a spin-off version of the app designed for those currently too young to use the main platform.

The plans were widely criticized at the time, because of ongoing concerns over the impact of social media on young people, but Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, said the idea, although not yet ‘fully fledged’, is about keeping children safe online.

Facebook has confirmed that it is moving ahead with plans to launch new apps aimed at under-13s (stock image)

Mosseri admitted the plan had ‘leaked early’ and it was still ‘really early in the process’.

‘The idea though is that it has to be more responsible. In a world where kids under 13 want to use Instagram or platforms like Instagram verifying age is very difficult because they don’t have IDs,’ he said.

‘It has to be more responsible to give parents oversight and transparency than to have kids continue to lie about their age. 

‘That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do more age verification – there’s a lot to do there and we’re working with different governments around the world – but I do think that a product that was designed for under-13s, which Instagram was not, and where parents have control and transparency, that’s going to be an important part of a broader approach, but it’s going to take some time.’

When asked about criticism of the idea, Mosseri said he believed the critics were ‘trying to do the right thing’.

‘They’re worried about children’s safety, as are we,’ he said.

‘I think that’s reasonable. I think there is stuff that we can do to design a version of Instagram that is safer, and I think we will do that.’ 

Instagram launches crackdown on fake accounts with new feature giving users more information

Instagram has launched a crackdown on fake accounts, introducing a new feature showing users information about who is really behind a username.

The Photo-sharing app’ more than 1 billion users will now be able to evaluate the authenticity of accounts, weeks after parent Facebook rolled out similar measures in a bid to weed out fake accounts on its social media platform.

The ‘About This Account’ feature will allow users to see the advertisements an account is running, the country where the account is located, username changes in the past year as well as other details.

To learn more about an account, go to their Profile, tap the … menu and then select ‘About This Account.’ 

There, you will see the date the account joined Instagram, the country where the account is located, accounts with shared followers, any username changes in the last year and any ads the account is currently running. 

Instagram also plans to significantly boost the number of verified accounts for public figures, celebrities, and global brands. 

Along with the account username, applicants will need to provide full real names and a copy of legal or business identification.

Instagram also said it will allow the use of third-party apps such as DUO Mobile and Google Authenticator for two-factor authentication to help users securely log in to their accounts.

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