In an effort to better protect underage users, Meta is adjusting default privacy settings on Facebook and Instagram to limit contact from "suspicious adults."
Now, any time a teen joins Facebook, their account will automatically have stronger privacy protections. This includes, but is not limited to, deciding who can see your friends list, which Pages they follow, and who can comment on your posts. For accounts created before this update, Meta states (opens in a new tab) that it will begin to push these users to adopt these same settings, but will not force them. If any of this sounds familiar, it's because Instagram has implemented very similar changes in 2021 to protect young people there.
power to the user
Meta goes on to say that it is working on new ways to prevent blocked and reported accounts from communicating with underage users.
One way to do this on Instagram is, as part of a test, to remove the message button, thereby preventing predatory adults from using Instagram messaging to contact teen users directly.
Additionally, the People You May Know recommendation feed on Facebook will no longer display these reported accounts.
On both Messenger and Instagram, a new notification encourages teens to use safety tools when they feel "uncomfortable" during a conversation. A notification will ask users if they know the person who just sent them a message. If you choose "No", both apps will show a series of actions (opens in a new tab) that they can take, such as blocking the account or reporting it.
According to the announcement, Facebook's new default privacy settings will roll out today (November 21); presumably the other changes are as well. We have contacted Meta for clarification. This story will be updated if we get any news.
In addition to the update, Meta announced its partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to create a new platform to "prevent [teenagers'] intimate images from being posted online" and spreading across the Internet. Their goal is to help underage users "regain control" of these leaked images and discourage such acts in the first place.
While it's great to see more security features added, Meta's recent privacy record has been mixed. For one thing, the company improved Instagram's blocking system to prevent trolls from harassing you further in October. But at the same time, the platform has introduced a new precise location feature that can make users vulnerable to stalkers or theft.
This is a rather confusing message that could lead to privacy concerns for all users; especially teenagers. For that reason, be sure to check out TechRadar's best parental control app for 2022.