Instagram To Blur Nude Images Sent To Minors

Under intense pressure to do more to protect minors from predators, Meta announced on Thursday that Instagram will test a feature designed to blur images containing nudity that are targeted at teens and children.

Social media platforms are increasingly criticized in the U.S. and Europe over the addictive nature of their products. They are blamed for igniting a mental health crisis among young people and opening avenues for predators to target minors.

According to Instagram parent Meta, the feature to be tested on direct messages will analyze whether an image sent through the platform features nudity.

Instagram users under 18 will see the blurring feature activated by default, and adults will be notified of their option to turn it on. Activation will be automatic depending on the birthday information on the account.

Meta explained that having the images blurred on the device keeps them away from the company. “Because the images are analyzed on the device itself, nudity protection will also work in end-to-end encrypted chats, where Meta won’t have access to these images.”

That is, unless the user decides to report the inappropriate pictures.

Meta added that it is working to identify accounts involved in explicit scams. The platform is also testing pop-up messages to warn users who may interact with these suspicious accounts.

Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms are regularly accused of ignoring their negative effects on young users. Children are believed to suffer mental health and body image issues from images that are pervasive on social media.

The powerful companies are also criticized for providing a platform for bad parents and a medium for predators to connect with young victims.

Instagram’s blurring feature will be tested over the next few weeks, and a full rollout is expected during the summer. Recipients of inappropriate images that are blurred will receive a message telling them there is no pressure to respond to the sender.

Meta said the new feature is designed to protect users from unwanted nudity in their DMs, “but also to protect them from scammers who may send nude images to trick people into sending their own images in return.”

Messages will also be delivered to those who attempt to send such images warning them of the dangers of sharing such photos. Still another will caution those who attempt to forward nude images they received.