Instagram bets on AI to block predators contacting kids

Instagram bets on AI to block predators contacting teenagers on social media

Instagram and most other companies require users to be at least 13 years old to create an account on their social media platforms. However, tech-savvy kids manage to fool the system by submitting false birth date details to enter the virtual world.

Parents and several Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have submitted petitions to the Facebook-owned firm to improve the screening process. Now, it has taken the initiative to launch technologies to enhance security in not just properly identify the age but also protect teenagers from unknown adults. 

"We want to do more to stop this from happening, but verifying people's age online is complex and something many in our industry are grappling with. To address this challenge, we’re developing new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology to help us keep teens safer and apply new age-appropriate features," Instagram said.

Instagram is releasing a new AI-based feature to its social media platform, where it can intuitively block adults from sending DMs (Direct Messages) to teenagers (less than the age of 18). Only the persons known or followed by the kid can interact on Instagram.


Instagram will send safety notice teenagers to restrict or end conversations with unknown adults. Credit: Instagram

Also, The app's AI feature will be able to identify accounts of users under 18 years of age and check DM traffic from adults with potentially suspicious behavior. Then, it will start sending prompts in the form of safety notices — to encourage teens to be cautious in conversations with adults they’re already connected to. Also, it will offer the option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult.

Instagram added that it will start restricting mentioning teenagers' names in 'Suggested Users'. This will prevent them from discovering teen content in Reels or Explore, and automatically hiding their comments on public posts by teens.

Also, teenagers under the age of 18 are advised to turn their accounts from the public to private to protect them from cyberbullies and predators. With a private account, users can control who can see and interact with their content.


The private account on Instagram. Credit: Instagram

Furthermore, Instagram said it has plans to make DM end-to-end encrypted to secure the communication between two individuals. With this, only the sender and the receiver will know the content of the message. Even the company cannot view the message and also government cannot be able to tap the conversation.

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