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Instagram tightens default content settings for teens

Instagram announced the platform is rolling out a feature that defaults accounts for new users under 16 years old to “Less,” the most restrictive setting for Sensitive Content Control. Teenagers already on Instagram will get push notifications “encouraging” them to opt-in to the heavier filtering on what the algorithm shows them across Search, Explore, Hashtag Pages, Reels, Feed Recommendations, and Suggested Accounts.

The “Standard” setting in Instagram only lets users see some content deemed sensitive, while the “Less” option tightens the restrictions even further, and the “More” option allows users to see more sensitive content or accounts than the default settings. While users over 18 years old typically have access to “Standard,” “Less,” and “More,” teenagers currently only have access to “Standard” and “Less.”

In June, Instagram first introduced its “Less” option. A week later, it began rolling out a feature in the US and other countries to suggest that teenage users look at other content if they spend too much time on one particular topic and excludes topics tied to appearance comparison.

Instagram is also testing prompts for teens that suggest limiting who can interact with their content. The test will ask them to review privacy and security settings related to who can re-share their content, who can message them, the type of content they can see, and time management.

The “Sensitive Content Control” feature launched on Instagram in July 2021. The filter was supposed to keep users from seeing potentially harmful and “inappropriate” material suggested to them on the Explore page. As Meta / Instagram ramps up suggested content in response to the rise of TikTok, the tuning applied to the algorithm has become more impactful.

The feature was met with backlash from many people in the art world, sex workers, tattoo artists, and the cannabis industry since they could be excluded from the feed of suggestions if their accounts or content were flagged. In the Help Center, Instagram describes what it sees as sensitive content, including posts with depictions of violence or sexually explicit or suggestive, promoting regulated products and substances, etc.

Instagram has recently introduced other features on Instagram that cater to providing a secure experience. In March, parental controls arrived on the platform that allows parents and guardians to monitor what their child does on Instagram, including how much time they spend on the app.

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