Home >Industry >Media >Instagram users under age 16 to get more privacy

Facebook-owned photo sharing platform Instagram on Tuesday said it prohibits advertisers from targeting children who are under 18 years with anything other than their age, gender and location, in a key change to its advertising algorithms.

The company said that it will default accounts of users who are less than 16 years to private accounts. These accounts allow users to control who can see and respond to their posts. They have to explicitly allow others to follow them, and content from these accounts won’t show up on Instagram’s public feeds.

“We want to strike the right balance of giving young people all the things they love about Instagram while also keeping them safe. That’s why we are announcing changes we are making today. We will continue listening to them, their parents, lawmakers and experts to build an Instagram that works for young people and is trusted by parents," said Karina Newton, public policy director at Instagram.

Instagram, Facebook and Messenger earlier allowed advertisers to use options based on interests and even users’ activity on other apps and websites to target them, along with age, gender and location. Users’ activity on apps and websites outside of Instagram and Facebook have specifically been blocked by Apple on its platforms.

Instagram, however, isn’t asking younger users to seek parental approval and guidance for using the platform—a measure that the Indian government’s draft Personal Data Protection (PDP) bill had detailed. In its current form, the PDP bill puts the onus of monitoring minors’ internet use on the platforms, and has set 18 as the age of consent.

“Right now, we are focused on these changes, and I’m sure we will have more to share as we develop additional products," said Newton.

This aspect of the PDP bill has been opposed by platforms and industry experts, who feel that it will require additional verification and more data collection from platforms.

When a user turns 18, the company will inform him/her about the targeting options that advertisers can use.

The change for those below 16 years will be applicable only for new users joining Instagram, but the platform will also inform existing users who are underage of the change.

In Instagram’s tests, eight out of 10 young users accepted the private by default settings when they were signing up. The changes will be implemented in the US, Australia, France, the UK and Japan, and will also be introduced in other countries soon. The changes to its advertising algorithm will apply to users in South-East Asia and India for now.

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