Instagram will prevent people DMing under 18s who don't follow them

Layout from Instagram on iPhone 11 Pro
Layout from Instagram on iPhone 11 Pro (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Instagram is rolling out new tools to help keep kids safe on the social network.
  • People won't be able to send DMs to someone under 18 if they don't follow them.

Instagram today announced that it is putting some new measures in place to help keep kids safe on its social network. The most interesting of the new changes is the restriction of DMs, preventing adults from sending messages to under-18s if they don't follow them.

The move is aimed at ensuring that kids only receive messages from people they know rather than random people across Instagram. This will, of course, need kids to have entered their real details when signing up to Instagram.

To protect teens from unwanted contact from adults, we're introducing a new feature that prevents adults from sending messages to people under 18 who don't follow them. For example, when an adult tries to message a teen who doesn't follow them, they receive a notification that DM'ing them isn't an option. This feature relies on our work to predict peoples' ages using machine learning technology, and the age people give us when they sign up. As we move to end-to-end encryption, we're investing in features that protect privacy and keep people safe without accessing the content of DMs.

Instagram also has a new Parents Guide that it hopes will give parents the information they need to help keep their kids safe online.

We want parents to have the information to help their teens have a safe and positive experience on Instagram. In the US, we've collaborated with The Child Mind Institute and ConnectSafely to publish a new Parents Guide. It includes the latest safety tools and privacy settings and a list of tips and conversation starters to help parents navigate discussions with their teens about their online presence. This updated Guide has launched with expert partners in other countries including Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Singapore and will be rolled out in more countries soon. This also complements our existing Parents' Guides which provide support for parents in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, which were developed in partnership with local safety experts.

As much as Instagram was built on sharing phone photos it's now becoming somewhere that people share their professional images, too. People using some of the best digital cameras on the planet are posting to Instagram and it's a great place to see some amazing work. But like most of the internet, Instagram can be dangerous as well. The more work Instagram and Facebook can put in to help keep kids safe, the better.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.