Last fall, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed that the company knew its products could be harmful to young users but wasn’t doing enough to address the problem. Now, one year later, Facebook has stepped up with a set of new policies designed to protect teenaged users.
Most notably, every person under the age of 16 will be defaulted into stronger privacy settings when they join Facebook and Instagram — a change that many advocates and experts have long called on the company to implement. Facebook is also testing ways to prevent teens from messaging suspicious adults they aren’t connected to, as well as building tools to help stop the spread of revenge porn.
“The non-consensual sharing of intimate images can be extremely traumatic and we want to do all we can to discourage teens from sharing these images on our apps in the first place,” Meta wrote in a blog post. “We’ve been working closely with [the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children] NCMEC, experts, academics, parents and victim advocates globally to help develop the platform and ensure it responds to the needs of teens so they can regain control of their content in these horrific situations.”
When taken together, these new features represent one of the most significant investments Facebook has made in the privacy of young users. It might not be enough to satisfy lawmakers and advocates, but at least stronger protections will finally be available.
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