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Social Media

Meta’s updates to protect privacy of teens on Facebook and Instagram

Meta is encouraging teens to use the new safety tools and report anything that makes them uncomfortable.

The Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta has rolled out new policies for teens, targeting everyone under the age 16, or under 18 in some countries. For these young users, the account will automatically move to default settings when they join Facebook. 

The new privacy settings will affect:

  • Who can see their friends list

  • Who can see the people, pages and lists they follow 

  • Who can see posts they’re tagged in on their profile

  • Reviewing posts they’re tagged in before the post appears on their profile

  • Who is allowed to comment on their public posts

The Mark Zuckerberg-led company is also testing ways to protect teens from messaging any suspicious adults they are not connected with. Suspicious adult accounts won't be seen in the teens People You May Know list, the company’s blogpost stated.

According to the company, a “suspicious” account is one that belongs to an adult that may have recently been blocked or reported by a young person.

image credit: Meta
image credit: Meta

The parent company is also encouraging teens to use the new safety tools and report anything that makes them uncomfortable. The blogpost notes, “We’re prompting teens to report accounts to us after they block someone, and sending them safety notices with information on how to navigate inappropriate messages from adults. In just one month in 2021, more than 100 million people saw safety notices on Messenger. We’ve also made it easier for people to find our reporting tools and, as a result, we saw more than a 70% increase in reports sent to us by minors in Q1 2022 versus the previous quarter on Messenger and Instagram DMs.”

This is a significant step taken by the social media platform, as per the NCRB data in India they reported a 400% increase in the cyber crime cases against children in 2020 as compared to 2019. Most of the cases were related to publishing or transmitting materials depicting children in a sexually explicit act. 

The company said it is also working on new tools that will stop the spread of teens’ intimate images.

“We’re working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to build a global platform for teens who are worried intimate images they created might be shared on public online platforms without their consent. This platform will be similar to work we have done to prevent the non-consensual sharing of intimate images for adults. It will allow us to help prevent a teen’s intimate images from being posted online and can be used by other companies across the tech industry. We’ll have more to share on this new resource in the coming weeks,” Meta said. 

The company blogpost also said that anyone seeking support and information related to ‘sextortion’ can visit Meta’s education and awareness resources, including the Stop Sextortion hub on the Facebook Safety Center. 

The American multinational technology company is also working around mental issues and the positive self-images by partnering with Thorn and their NoFilter to reduce the stigma around taboo topics using educational materials.

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