Meta's new setting now only allows followers to DM teens on Instagram and Facebook
Under this new default setting, teens can only be messaged or added to group chats by people they already follow or are connected to
To help protect teens from unwanted contact, and to make it simpler for parents to shape their teens’ online experiences, Meta on Thursday, 25 January, announced 'stricter private messaging settings for teens' on Instagram and Facebook.
Under this new setting, the tech giant has now restricted adults over the age of 19 from messaging teens who don’t follow them and limited the type and number of direct messages (DMs) people can send to someone who doesn’t follow them to one text-only message.
"Today we’re announcing an additional step to help protect teens from unwanted contact by turning off their ability to receive DMs from anyone they don’t follow or aren’t connected to on Instagram -- including other teens -- by default," Meta said.
Under this new default setting, teens can only be messaged or added to group chats by people they already follow or are connected to.
Teens in supervised accounts will need to get their parent’s permission to change this setting, the company said.
This default setting will apply to all teens under the age of 16 (or under 18 in certain countries).
These new changes to teens’ default settings apply on Messenger as well, where under 16s (or under 18 in certain countries) will only receive messages from Facebook friends, or people they’re connected to through phone contacts.
In addition, the tech giant is planning to launch a new feature designed to help protect teens from seeing unwanted and potentially inappropriate images in their messages from people they’re already connected to, and to discourage them from sending these types of images themselves.
"We’ll have more to share on this feature, which will also work in encrypted chats, later this year," Meta said.
To help parents shape their teens' online experience, Meta now let parents 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.
"Empowering parents to approve or deny requests to change their teen's default safety and privacy settings gives parents the tools they need to help protect their teens, while at the same time respecting their teens' privacy and ability to communicate with their friends and family," Larry Magid, CEO of ConnectSafely, said in a statement.
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 explained.