Instagram Unveils New Features to Combat Sextortion and Protect Users from Unwanted Nudes

In a bid to combat the rampant issue of sextortion on its platform, Instagram has announced the testing of a new feature called "nudity protection." This multi-pronged approach aims to safeguard users from receiving unsolicited sexually explicit images and encourage them to exercise caution when sharing such content.

As outlined in a blog post published on Thursday, the nudity protection feature encompasses several functionalities designed to tackle sextortion head-on. For users under the age of 18, the feature will be automatically enabled, blurring images detected as containing nudity sent via direct messages. Additionally, a warning message will appear alongside the blurred image, prompting users to reconsider their decision to send such content.

Instagram further intends to instill a sense of caution among users when sharing sensitive images. Upon attempting to send a nude photo, users will be met with a pop-up message reminding them of the potential risks associated with sharing such content and encouraging them to reconsider their actions. The message will also provide links to Instagram's Safety Center and support helplines for those in need of assistance.

The introduction of the nudity protection feature marks a significant step forward in Instagram's ongoing efforts to foster a safer and more secure online environment for its users. By proactively addressing the issue of sextortion and promoting responsible sharing practices, Instagram hopes to empower its users to make informed decisions and protect themselves from potential harm.

This initiative aligns with Instagram's broader commitment to safeguarding young people on its platform. In the past, the company has implemented stricter messaging settings for teens, issued safety notices to those interacting with potentially harmful accounts, and provided dedicated options for reporting threatening direct messages.

As concerns regarding the safety of minors on social media platforms continue to mount, Instagram's proactive approach to combating sextortion and promoting responsible online behavior serves as a model for other platforms to follow. By prioritizing user safety and well-being, Instagram is demonstrating its dedication to creating a positive and secure online experience for all.

Instagram's announcement coincides with a growing national movement to strengthen online safety regulations for social media platforms, particularly regarding children. There is growing worry that these platforms are failing to adequately protect young users from harmful content and exploitation.

Just recently, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a member of the Republican party, signed a contentious bill into law that bans children under the age of 14 from creating social media accounts.While intended to protect young people, the law is likely to face legal challenges as it potentially violates First Amendment rights.

In December, more than 200 organizations united to urge Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Majority Leader, to prioritize a vote on the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). This proposed legislation seeks to hold online platforms and apps accountable for the content they recommend to minors. KOSA aims to establish a "duty of care" by these platforms, making them potentially liable if their algorithms expose children to content that could negatively impact their mental well-being.

These efforts culminated in lawmakers grilling the CEOs of major tech companies like TikTok, X, and Meta (formerly Facebook) during a January hearing. While facing intense scrutiny, the tech executives reiterated their commitment to child safety and showcased various tools and initiatives they claim are already in place to proactively prevent online exploitation of young users.

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