Instagram bans adults from messaging younger users, rolls out other safety features

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 27:  In this photo illustration the logo of Instagram is displayed on a smartphone on September 27, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo Illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

Instagram has introduced new policies to protect the platform's younger users - including banning adults they don't follow from messaging them.

The Facebook-owned photo-sharing site said soon any adult who tries to message an under 18-year-old they don't follow will receive a notification saying the action isn't allowed.

Teenagers will also receive prompts and safety messages if an adult they're talking to online has shown "suspicious" behaviour - such as following or trying to message a large number of under-18s.

"We'll use this tool to alert the recipients within their direct messages and give them an option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult."

Adults who have shown suspicious behaviour will be restricted too - Instagram saying it's exploring ways to make finding teenagers on the app more difficult.

"This may include things like restricting these adults from seeing teen accounts in 'Suggested Users', preventing them from discovering teen content in Reels or Explore and automatically hiding their comments on public posts by teens."

The minimum age requirement to have an instagram account is 13 - and while the platform says many people are honest about their age, some young people do lie to sign up.

To combat this, it is developing new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help identify and protect young people.

The changes are expected to roll out globally within the next few months.