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Meta tightens message settings amidst concerns for teen safety: Here’s how


In response to ongoing concerns about the safety of teenagers on social media, Meta Platforms Inc. is implementing stricter default direct message settings for teens on Instagram and Facebook. The move comes as lawmakers and parents continue to express worries about the potential exposure of young users to harmful content on these platforms.

According to a recent blog post from Meta, the company will disable the option for teens to receive direct messages from individuals they do not follow or are not already connected to on Instagram. This change applies not only to adults but also to other teens. Users under the age of 16, or under 18 in specific countries, will now only be able to receive messages or be added to group chats by individuals they are already connected to. In the case of supervised accounts, teens will require parental approval to modify these settings, and this rule also extends to Messenger.

The implementation of supervision tools began on Instagram in March 2022, following the revelation of internal documents by a whistleblower. The leaked documents suggested that Facebook knowingly prioritized profit over the well-being and safety of its users, sparking congressional testimony and a wider debate about online protection for minors. In October 2023, over 30 U.S. states filed a lawsuit against Meta, accusing the company of engaging in harmful youth marketing practices.

As part of its ongoing efforts to enhance safety measures for teens, Meta also announced plans to introduce a feature aimed at protecting teens from unwanted and potentially inappropriate images in their messages from contacts they are already connected to. Further details about this feature are expected to be revealed later in the year.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)



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Published: 26 Jan 2024, 01:57 PM IST


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