In a proactive move to address concerns about harmful content and enhance user safety, Meta Platforms Inc. is tightening default direct message settings for teens on Instagram and Facebook. The new settings, outlined in a blog post, restrict the ability of teens to receive direct messages from individuals they don't follow or aren't connected to on Instagram. For users under age 16 in the US, or under 18 in the UK and Europe, the default settings limit message receipt and group chat additions to connections already established. Additionally, teens in supervised accounts will require parental approval to modify these settings, extending the safety measures to Messenger as well.
The initiative builds on Meta's prior efforts to prioritize user safety, particularly for younger audiences. In March 2022, supervision tools were introduced on Instagram in response to whistleblower revelations about Facebook's alleged prioritization of profit over well-being. The move comes amid heightened scrutiny, with over 30 US states filing a lawsuit against Meta in October 2023, accusing the company of engaging in harmful youth marketing. Meta also announced plans to launch a feature aimed at protecting teens from potentially inappropriate images within messages from their existing connections, with further details expected later this year.