Meta announces new updates on safeguarding teen privacy on Facebook, Instagram

Facebook Child Safety
(Image credit: Facebook)

What you need to know

  • Meta is introducing new updates on Facebook and Instagram aimed at teen users.
  • Teens, particularly those under 16, are prone to unwanted interactions with unknown adults.
  • Facebook is building new measures and tools to protect teens from suspicious adults.

On Monday, Meta shared some updates coming to its social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. The updates are aimed at new teens who are joining Facebook in addition to those already using the service and are aimed at protecting teens from suspicious adults.

In an announcement post, Facebook states that the new privacy updates are for everyone under the age of 16 (or 18 for some regions).

According to Meta, the platforms will no longer recommend "suspicious adults" in the People You May Know recommendations. It will also hide the "message" button on teen accounts so that suspicious adult cannot contact them.

Facebook continues to explain that "suspicious accounts" are those belonging to an adult who might have been reported or blocked by another teen. The protection is said to also extend to teens' Instagram accounts.

The social media giant is also introducing new notifications for teens on the platform to use new safety tools. These tools are said to be helping them to block unknown adults from messaging them and encourage teens to use them more often. This goes for the "Messages" feature on Facebook and Instagram DMs.

In addition, Facebook is introducing new Privacy Defaults for Teens when they join the social media service. It will also encourage current teen users on the app to choose the following privacy settings as defaults:

  • 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

In addition to privacy tools, Facebook is highlighting ways it's preventing the sharing of personal photographs of minors, which can be used to exploit them (aka sextortion). These can be pretty traumatizing, and Facebook warns teenagers from posting such pictures in the first place on their apps.

"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."

Facebook Child Safety

(Image credit: Facebook)

Along with NCMEC, Facebook says that it is working with experts, academics, parents, and victim advocates worldwide to develop a global platform. The purpose of it would be to help the teens in need to get out of such a non-censual sharing of images situation. The Meta-owned company will share more details on this in the coming weeks.

These updates arrive as the latest in Meta's efforts to protect younger users on its platform after receiving backlash for its harmful effects on teens. Meta is now seemingly taking teens' privacy and safety more seriously above everything else, which is promising for parents.