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Instagram now lets teens limit interactions to ‘close friends’ groups to combat harassment

Instagram said on Thursday it is expanding the use of its “Restrict” tool specifically for teens to combat harassment on the platform, allowing them to limit unwanted interactions with others. Once the feature is enabled, teens will only see comments, messages, story replies, tags and mentions from their “Close Friends” group, while interactions from other accounts will be blocked.

The company initially piloted the Limit feature in 2021 after English footballers Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jaden Sancho were harassed online following England’s loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final. Limit is currently available to everyone, but it only limits interactions with people you follow, aside from long-time followers.

Image Source: Instagram

The feature has now been tweaked for teens and is set to “Close Friends” by default, which Instagram says is designed to protect people from bullying and harassment. Accounts that are not part of someone’s “Close Friends” group can still interact with them, but their activity won’t show up in the feed.

Alternatively, teens can limit interactions to recent followers (accounts that have started following them in the past week or accounts they don’t follow).

Additionally, the company has added new features to its Restrict feature that will let you limit interactions with specific accounts without having to block them. Instagram will hide all comments from restricted accounts, and they will not be able to tag or mention you.

The Restrictions feature gives you more control over who can talk to you. Image Source: Instagram

Earlier this year, Meta introduced new restrictions that prevented people over 18 from messaging teens who didn’t follow them. In April, the company launched a feature that blurred nudity in teens’ Instagram direct messages.

This is a “goodwill” move by Meta, which has come under scrutiny in several regions for youth safety issues. Last October, more than 40 states in the United States sued Meta, accusing it of product design affecting children’s mental health. Earlier this month, the European Union launched an investigation into Facebook and Instagram, accusing them of product design being addictive and having a negative impact on the mental health of minors.

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