Tech on Tuesday: Instagram Using A.I. to Protect Teens

Instagram is taking steps to protect teenagers from unwanted interactions with adults. The popular social media company announced it will use artificial intelligence to restrict adults fromPhone messaging teenagers if they don’t follow each other.

“We’re looking at machine learning to look at the behavioral signals of how old someone is,” says Instagram Head of Global Public Policy Programs Carolyn Merrell.
Instagram will also use prompts to encourage teens to be cautious, and make it harder for adults to find and follow them.

Merrell says that while the activity on the platform is overwhelmingly positive, “..in one of our latest reports, we saw that in over 10,000 pieces of content, five were potentially risky for teens, but five is too much. And that’s why we’re investing in even more technology to protect teens.”

A 2019 study by the Beau Biden Foundation found at least 20% of children reported being contacted by an online predator. An estimated 500,000 predators are online every day.
Are parents surprised when they hear how many predators are lurking online? “Yes and no,” says mom Ellen Bunker. “The number, yeah that’s very scary to hear that. That there are people out there doing that. No, unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me.”

Instagram is also updating its Parents Guide so that parents have the resources to help their children have a positive experience on the platform. Tips in the guide include setting boundaries, such as encouraging teens to avoid social media for an hour before bed, and making sure they have an alarm clock that isn’t their phone.

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