Instagram is toughening up default content settings for teens

Instagram announce The platform rolls out a feature that makes default accounts for new users under 16 “less,” the most restrictive setting for controlling sensitive content. Teens who are already on Instagram will get notifications “encouraging” them to opt in to the heavier filtering of what the algorithm is showing them across search, exploration, hashtag pages, reels, feed recommendations, and suggested accounts.

Instagram’s “Standard” setting lets users see only some of the content that’s considered sensitive, the “Less” option tightens restrictions even more, and the “More” option allows users to see more sensitive content or accounts than the default settings. While users over the age of 18 typically have access to Standard, Less and More, currently teens only have access to Standard and Less.

In June, Instagram first introduced its “lower” option. A week later, it started rolling out a feature in the US and other countries to suggest that teen users look at other content if they’ve spent too much time on a particular topic and exclude topics related to the appearance comparison.

Instagram is also testing claims for teens that suggest who can interact with their content. The test will ask them to review their privacy and security settings regarding who can re-share their content, who can message them, what type of content they can see, and time management.

Three mobile screens showing Instagram notifications and content settings

Teen users will be encouraged to review who can interact with their content
Photo: Instagram

The Sensitive Content Control feature was launched on Instagram in July 2021. The filter was supposed to prevent users from seeing potentially harmful and “inappropriate” material suggested to them on the Explore page. With Meta/Instagram ramping up suggested content in response to the rise of TikTok, the tuning applied to the algorithm has become even more impactful.

The feature was met with a backlash from many people in the art world, sex workers, tattoo artists, and the cannabis industry, as they could be excluded from the suggestions feed if their accounts or content were flagged. In the Help CenterInstagram describes what it deems to be sensitive content, including posts with violent or sexually explicit or suggestive images, promoting censored products and materials, etc.

Instagram has recently introduced other features on Instagram that work to provide a secure experience. In March, parental controls arrived on the platform that allows parents and guardians to monitor what their children are doing on Instagram, including how much time they spend on the app.

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