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Meta rolls out new privacy updates for teens on Instagram and Facebook

Meta announced today that it's introducing new privacy updates for teens on Instagram and Facebook. Most notably, everyone under the age of 16, or under 18 in certain countries, will now be defaulted into more private settings when they join Facebook.

For teens already on the app, Facebook is going to start encouraging them to choose more private settings in terms of who can see their friends lists, the posts they're tagged in, the people and lists they follow, and who is allowed to comment on their public posts. The Facebook privacy update comes over a year after Instagram started to default young users' accounts to private accounts at sign-up.

Meta is also testing ways to protect teens from messaging suspicious adults they aren’t connected to. An example of a suspicious account is one that belongs to an adult that was recently blocked or reported by a young user. On Facebook, Meta won't show suspicious accounts in teens' People You May Know recommendations. Meta is also testing removing the message button on teens’ Instagram accounts when they’re viewed by suspicious adults.

Facebook's privacy settings
Facebook's privacy settings

Image Credits: Meta

In addition, Meta is working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to build a global platform for teens who are worried their intimate images might be shared online without their consent. The goal of the platform is to help Meta prevent a teen’s intimate images from being posted online. The platform will work similarly Meta's current system designed to prevent the sharing of intimate images from adults. Meta says once the platform is built, it can be used by other companies across the tech industry.

"We’ve been working closely with NCMEC, experts, academics, parents and victim advocates globally to help develop the platform and ensure it responds to the needs of teens so they can regain control of their content in these horrific situations," Meta said in a blog post. "We’ll have more to share on this new resource in the coming weeks."

Meta is also working with Thorn and their NoFiltr brand to create educational materials that reduce the shame and stigma surrounding intimate images. The educational materials will aim to empower teens to seek help and take control if they are experiencing sextortion.