Meta is rolling out stricter message settings for teens on Facebook and Instagram

Meta has unveiled new direct message (DM) restrictions for teens on both Facebook and Instagram as part of its ongoing efforts to enhance online safety. The updated measures apply to users under 16, and in some regions under 18, by default. 

Instagram will now prevent adults from messaging teens who don’t follow them, a feature previously limited to those over 18. Additionally, on Messenger, users will only receive messages from Facebook friends or contacts.

“Under this new default setting, teens can only be messaged or added to group chats by people they already follow or are connected to, helping teens and their parents feel even more confident that they won’t hear from people they don’t know in their DMs. Teens in supervised accounts will need to get their parent’s permission to change this setting (more below),” the company said in a blog post.

Meta is also bolstering parental controls, allowing guardians to approve or reject changes in default privacy settings made by teens. This move aims to give guardians more oversight and control over their teens’ online experiences. 

In March 2022, Meta introduced parental supervision tools on Instagram, and since then, the company has consistently introduced additional features aimed at enhancing parental involvement in their teens’ online activities. These features encompass the capability for parents to set time constraints and arrange breaks, monitor instances when their teen blocks or reports someone, and receive notifications when their teen modifies account settings.

“Now, parents using supervision will be prompted to approve or deny their teens’ (under 16) requests to change their default safety and privacy settings to a less strict state – rather than just being notified of the change. For example, if a teen using supervision tries to change their account from private to public, change their Sensitive Content Control from “Less” to “Standard”, or – now – tries to change their DM settings to hear from people they’re not already following or connected to, their parent will receive a notification prompting them to approve or deny the request,” the company said.

Furthermore, Meta is developing a feature to prevent teens from encountering inappropriate images in DMs, even in end-to-end encrypted chats. The company is actively addressing concerns around child safety and online privacy, with these updates marking another step in fostering a secure digital environment for younger users.

Earlier this month, Meta introduced additional measures to minimize teens’ exposure to potentially sensitive content on both Instagram and Facebook. Alongside this, the company implemented new prompts to encourage teens to conclude their Instagram sessions at night.

Written by Sophie Blake


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