Meta Platforms is taking steps to enhance the safety of Instagram and Facebook for teenagers by introducing new features that protect young users from unwanted messages. This move highlights Meta's responsiveness to concerns regarding the online safety of teens.
Previously, Meta faced allegations of being aware that teens were being exposed to harmful content. However, following discussions with regulators who prioritize the safety of children on social media, Meta made the decision to restrict certain content from teen users.
The significance of this issue grew when a former Meta employee testified before the U.S. Senate, revealing that Meta had knowledge of the negative experiences, such as harassment, that teens faced on its platforms but failed to take sufficient action. This revelation drew widespread attention and placed Meta under pressure to address the issue.
So, what changes can users expect? On Instagram, teens will now have their direct messaging functionality automatically set to only receive messages from people they follow. This change provides a significant enhancement to their safety. Additionally, any modifications to specific settings in the app will require parental approval. This update empowers both teens and their parents to have greater control over who can contact them.
On Messenger, stricter rules are also being implemented. Users under the age of 16 (or under 18 in certain regions) will only receive messages from individuals they are friends with on Facebook or who are in their phone contacts. Furthermore, adults over the age of 19 will not be able to message teens who do not follow them back. While these new rules aim to create a safer environment on Facebook, the extent to which they will be enforced may vary, and only time will reveal their effectiveness.
The commitment shown by Meta Platforms to address concerns about the safety of teenagers on Instagram and Facebook is commendable. By introducing these new features and restrictions, Meta aims to provide a safer online experience for young users. However, ongoing monitoring and adjustments will be necessary to ensure the effectiveness of these measures in protecting teenagers from unwanted messages and harmful content.