As wonderful as social media is, it's also a very dangerous place- particularly for children.
Well, it looks like Instagram is clamping down as the popular platform has announced plans to introduce a new safety feature...
That's right, Instagram is now banning adults from messaging children.
And it's been applauded across the internet. Scroll on for exactly what the new feature will mean...
Of course, we all know the internet can be a scary place.
via: GettyDespite all of its wonderful benefits and charms, the internet can be a dangerous place for young and vulnerable children to hang out.
Pedophiles and predators have been known to target children online.
via: GettyAnd they use a tactic known as "grooming."
But what exactly is grooming?
via: GettyGrooming is when someone builds a relationship, trust, and emotional connection with a child or young person so that they can manipulate, exploit, and abuse them. This is often done under a false name and/or identity.
Grooming can be done in person...
via: GettyBut it tends to be done more often over the internet, simply because it's easier. Children are often left unattended when browsing the web and, ultimately, are more exposed and vulnerable than they would be in the street.
And the rise of social media has only made children more vulnerable to these types of predators.
via: GettyOver the last couple of years, platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have been giving pedophiles ridiculously easy access to young and vulnerable children.
And children as young as 5-years-old are being groomed on social media platforms.
via: GettyThough, right now, I am simply perplexed at what kind of parent would allow their 5-year-old unsupervised access to their own social media account... Really, guys?
A study back in 2019 highlighted the dangers of these social media platforms.
More than 5,100 online grooming crimes were recorded by police in just eighteen months after a new offense of sexual communication with a child came into force, figures by the NSPCC showed.
And a staggering seventy percent of these crimes were carried out using social media apps.
via: ShutterstockInstagram was the worst offender, with thirty-three percent of these crimes being committed over the photography platform. Facebook and Snapchat were close runners up.
The NSPCC slammed these social media platforms for their lack of safeguards against online predators.
via: ShutterstockThe charity’s chief executive, Peter Wanless, also accused social media firms of “10 years of failed self-regulation." “These figures are overwhelming evidence that keeping children safe cannot be left to social networks," he said. “It is hugely concerning to see the sharp spike in grooming offenses on Instagram, and it is vital that the platform designs basic protection more carefully into the service it offers young people."
But now, it could all be changing...
Instagram has released its plan to introduce a new safety measure that would ban adults from private messaging children.
And it's been applauded online...
The proposed new safety feature means if someone over the age of eighteen tries to private message someone under eighteen who doesn't follow them back, they won't be able to.
Instead, they will receive a notification telling them that sending a message to that account is not an option.
It will also send messages to the minor, encouraging them to be careful in communicating with adults who they have previously communicated with before.
In a blog post, Instagram explained: "Safety notices in DMs will notify young people when an adult who has been exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior is interacting with them in DMs."
"For example, if an adult is sending a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18, we'll use this tool to alert the recipients within their DMs and give them an option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult."
Of course, the safety feature will only work for those who provide their real age, but...
Instagram has a plan for that too.
They are developing technology to help predict the ages of people based on their photos.
"We require everyone to be at least 13 to use Instagram and have asked new users to provide their age when they sign up for an account for some time. While many people are honest about their age, we know that young people can lie about their date of birth," the blog post reads.
"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 and machine learning technology to help us keep teens safer and apply new age-appropriate features, like those described below."
Instagram will also ask under 18s if they would prefer a private or public account from the beginning and begin to look at how they can make it more difficult for adults who have been exhibiting potentially suspicious behavior to interact with teens.
For more news, keep scrolling.