Meta has come under fire from regulators and governments for failing to protect teens on its platforms Facebook and Instagram, and the Mark Zuckerberg-owned company has now introduced updates to address this.
The company is now adding more filters to the People You May Know feature, limiting the visibility of friends’ lists, and introducing new tools to combat the unwelcome spread of intimate images.
Although The People You May Know is a feature for reconnecting with long-lost friends, teens will not be shown a “suspicious” account – that is, an account that has recently been reported by a young person. As tests continue, the option to message teens on Instagram will be removed for these suspicious adults as well.
When teens start messaging adults, they will be asked if they know the person in real life. Then a Safety Notice appears, outlining the steps that can be taken to avoid further contact with this person.
New teens who sign up for Facebook, however few there are these days, will have the most restrictive privacy settings pre-selected, such as who can see their friends list, people and pages they follow, posts they’re tagged in, and who can comment on posts. Instagram is also introducing similar settings.
Meta announced a new partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to create a platform for teens who are concerned that their intimate images will be shared on social media without their permission. Facebook is collaborating with two networks to help teens de-stigmatize such images, seek help, and reclaim control.
The features are already being rolled out, but it will take some time for them to reach all teens.