Meta’s looking to build on its teen user protections, with new default DM restrictions, which will further limit who can message teens in its apps, as well as new management tools for parents via its Family Center.
First off, on DM restrictions. Building on its default DM controls for teens, which block adults that they don’t follow from messaging them in the app, Instagram will now, by default, switch off the ability for all teen users to receive messages from anybody that they don’t follow or aren’t connected to in the app.
As you can see in these example screens, soon, teens will be automatically restricted in who can send them DMs, with only those profiles that they follow able to send them a message. The change will also be enacted on Messenger, with only Facebook users that they’re connected to, or have the phone contact of, able to send them a message.
Of course, these are the default settings, and users can switch out of them if they choose. But teens who have their profiles connected to their parents’ via Meta’s Family Center will now also need to get explicit permission to update these settings.
That’s a good update, which will give parents more assurance around who their kids are interacting with in each app. I mean, it’s going to be a headache for teens (many of whom will just use Snapchat instead), but it adds extra safety for youngsters, which will help them to avoid unwanted attention and contact.
In addition to this, Instagram’s also experimenting with new image restrictions in DMs:
“We’re planning to launch a new feature designed to help protect teens from seeing unwanted and potentially inappropriate images in their messages from people they’re already connected to, and to discourage them from sending these types of images themselves. We’ll have more to share on this feature, which will also work in encrypted chats, later this year.”
That could limit exposure, of themselves and others, via explicit messages, which have become increasingly commonplace among teen users.
The new controls will help parents feel safer about their teens' use of the app, and could help teen users avoid harm, which many are not even aware of until it’s too late. Meta’s been working with various third-party advisory groups to improve its safety tools in this regard, and it’s good to see the company maintaining its focus on this element.
The new DM restrictions are being rolled out from today, while Instagram will launch its new image filtering option shortly.