Instagram introduces nudity blur feature in DMs to protect young users

Instagram has announced new tools aimed at protecting young people and combating sexual extortion.

Updated - April 12, 2024 10:47 am IST

Published - April 12, 2024 09:25 am IST

Instagram is introducing a nudity blur feature for DMs.

Instagram is introducing a nudity blur feature for DMs. | Photo Credit: MICHAEL DWYER

Instagram has announced new tools aimed at protecting young people and combating sexual extortion, according to a report published by AP on Friday. These tools include a feature that automatically blurs nudity in direct messages. The social media platform is testing these features as part of its campaign against sexual scams and “image abuse,” aiming to make it tougher for criminals to contact teens.

Sexual extortion, or sextortion, involves persuading a person to send explicit photos online and then threatening to make the images public unless the victim pays money or engages in sexual favours. Recent high-profile cases have highlighted the seriousness of this issue.

Instagram and other social media companies have faced criticism for not doing enough to protect young people. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Instagram’s owner Meta Platforms, apologized to the parents of victims of such abuse during a Senate hearing earlier this year.

The nudity blur feature will be added to Instagram’s direct messages but won’t be available on Facebook and WhatsApp. Instagram said scammers often use direct messages to ask for “intimate images,” so it will soon start testing a nudity-protection feature that blurs any images with nudity and encourages people to think twice before sending such images.

(For top technology news of the day, subscribe to our tech newsletter Today’s Cache)

The feature will be turned on by default globally for teens under 18, with adult users receiving a notification encouraging them to activate it. Images with nudity will be blurred with a warning, giving users the option to view them, block the sender, and report the chat.

To protect recipients of direct messages, Instagram is working on technology to help identify accounts that could be engaging in sexual extortion scams. It is also taking measures to prevent potential sextortion accounts from connecting with young people.

Arturo Béjar, former engineering director at Meta, highlighted the need for tools to protect recipients from unwanted advances. White House Assistant Press Secretary Robyn Patterson noted President Joe Biden’s belief that social media companies can do more to combat sexual exploitation online.

In January, the FBI warned of a “huge increase” in sextortion cases targeting children, including financially motivated sextortion. The FBI saw a more than 20% increase in reporting of financially motivated sextortion cases involving minor victims compared to the same period in the previous year.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.