Instagram now sets under-16 profiles to private by default

New users will automatically have their accounts set to private (Picture: Instagram)

New Instagram users under the age of 16 will automatically have their accounts set to private, so only approved followers can ‘like’ or comment.

Instagram has previously had all accounts set to public by default, but internal tests showed that only in five users actively chose a public account when private was the default choice.

Existing public accounts would also receive notifications ‘highlighting the benefits’ of a private account.

‘Historically, we asked young people to choose between a public account or a private account when they signed up for Instagram but our recent research showed that they appreciate a more private experience,’ said an Instagram spokesperson.

The government’s Online Safety Bill, which will put responsibility on technology giants to protect under-age users, was drafted earlier this year.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has introduced a range of child-protection measures in response, such as using artificial intelligence systems to remove under-age accounts.

Earlier this year, it announced that users could only message teenagers who already followed them.

However, this relies on the user-submitted age being correct, which is easy to forge.

Instagram has also received criticism about a number of alleged failings, like failing to remove harmful content and mismanaging children’s data.

Instagram has recently introduced a range of measures to protect younger users (Credits: Getty Images)

One of its most criticised decisions is to create an app for under-13s. While Instagram claims the app is to protect children, critics argue it is introducing kids to social media at too young an age.

‘The reality is that they are already online and, with no foolproof way to stop people from misrepresenting their age, we want to build experiences designed specifically for them, managed by parents and guardians,’ a Facebook spokesperson said.

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