Instagram to restrict adults from messaging teenagers who don’t follow them

'It’s important that teens be protected against unwanted contact from adults,' says industry expert

Instagram is rolling out new features to try and make the community safer for children and teens. Courtesy Instagram 

Instagram is introducing new polices to prevent adults from direct messaging teenagers who don't follow them.

With the updated feature, safety prompts will be shown to teens when they receive a DM from users over the age of 18, they will also be shown "safety prompts" when they message adults who have been "exhibiting potentially suspicious behaviour ... For example, if an adult is sending a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18".

Requiring that the teen establishes the connection empowers them to protect themselves, it puts them in the driver's seat

Instagram currently has a minimum age of 13 in place. However, it concedes, "While many people are honest about their age, we know that young people can lie about their date of birth.

"When an adult tries to message a teen who doesn't follow them, they receive a notification that DMing them isn't an option. This feature relies on our work to predict peoples' ages using machine learning technology, and the age people give us when they sign up," Instagram explained in a statement.

"As we move to end-to-end encryption, we’re investing in features that protect privacy and keep people safe without accessing the content of DMs."

Safety notices, or prompts, will be shared with teens "encouraging [them] to be cautious in conversations with adults they’re already connected to."

Instagram is introducing new features prompting teens to be more cautious about interactions in DMs. Courtesy Instagram 

Teens will then be given the option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult, if they want to.

"There are cases where it is appropriate for adults and teens to interact on Instagram but it’s important that teens be protected against unwanted contact from adults," Instagram has quoted Larry Magid, chief executive of as saying.

"Requiring that the teen – not the adult – establish the connection empowers teens to protect themselves. It puts them in the driver's seat and gives them more control over their experiences on Instagram."

Instagram has said that these changes will be rolled out in select unspecified counties this month, and will be "available everywhere soon". Instagram has confirmed that the feature is currently in place in the UAE.