Meta Announces Safety Protections For Teens On Instagram, Facebook

With the goal of making its social-media platforms more age-appropriate for younger users, Meta has announced new protective tools and resources focused on the types of content teens see on Instagram and Facebook, including the enforcement of more restrictive content control settings, expanded content restrictions related to self-harm, and prompts linked to privacy settings. 

“These policies reflect current understandings and expert guidance regarding teen’s safety and well-being. As these changes unfold, they provide good opportunities for parents to talk with their teens about how to navigate difficult topics,” says Rachel Rodgers, an associate professor in the department of applied psychology at Northeastern University. 

For starters, Meta is altering its content recommendation control policy for teens, making it mandatory for all teens -- not just new users -- to adhere to the most restrictive setting, “Sensitive Content Control” on Instagram and “Reduce” on Facebook, as to make it less likely that younger users will stumble upon sensitive content in Search and Explore, the company explains.

Meta will also begin hiding more results related to content involving people’s personal struggles with suicide, self-harm and eating disorders from all users. This type of content is technically allowed on Meta platforms, but Instagram will now redirect users to official help services when they search for terms related to self-harm. 

In addition, the company will now limit teens from accessing related recommendations of self-harm content across Reels, Explore, Feed and Stories, even when the content is posted by a profile they follow.

Finally, Meta will prompt teen users to check their safety and privacy settings on Instagram and Facebook more regularly with new notifications that encourage them to update their settings to a more private experience. 

“If teens choose to ‘Turn on recommended settings,’ we will automatically change their settings to restrict who can repost their content, tag or mention them, or include their content in Reels Remixes,” the company says. “We’ll also ensure only their followers can message them and help hide offensive comments.”

Meta says it has already started to roll these changes out to teens under 18 years of age. They will be in place on Instagram and Facebook in the coming months.

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