What’s New?

Instagram have recently launched two new features ‘Desktop Uploads’ and ‘Collaborations’. Both features are now available on the latest version of the app and desktop site. The platform has also announced that they are currently testing two further video features. Our online safety experts have taken a look to see what these changes mean for users.

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Insta Facts:

  • As of July 2021, there were 28.81 million Instagram users across the UK.
  • The highest proportion of Instagram users in the UK are females under 24 years old.
  • 5.9% of all users in the U.K. are aged between 13 and 17 years old.

Source: statista.com

Here’s What You Need to Know

1. Desktop Uploads

As of October 21st, Instagram has added a new feature on their desktop website that enables users to upload images and videos directly from browser to their Instagram account. Previously, this could only be done through the app on a phone or tablet. 

This feature only works on videos for posts to the main Instagram feed and doesn’t include videos for Stories or Reels posts. 

Video showing Instagram’s upload feature on Desktop.

2. Collaborations
This new tagging feature allows users to collaborate on (co-authored) feed posts and reels. In the ‘Post Composer’ section, there will now be an option to tag up to 20 other people as collaborators. This will invite them to have the same post appear on their profile grid. Instagram has released this to help users increase followers, by creating exposure for all collaborating accounts within each other’s followers. 

Users who have been tagged are alerted to collaboration requests with an in-app pop-up. They can choose whether to accept or reject the request. Once accepted and posted, the insights (things like view counts and number of likes) are visible to all collaborators 

Video showing Instagram’s ‘add a collaborator’ feature.

New Video Features currently in testing

Alongside these new changes that are now live, Instagram is testing two new video features for the platform. One includes enabling longer video uploads in the app’s Stories, which would allow videos up to 60 seconds long, putting their video length much more in line with TikTok. 

They are also testing a new option that would redirect users to full Reels clips from Stories. This is designed to raise more awareness of the app’s various video tools by bringing them all together. Instagram has previously stated that it wants to move away from its ‘square photo sharing’ roots, and these new options give us a peek at their future direction. 

What Are the Risks?

With new updates come new risks to children and young people. Our online safety experts have assessed these features to find potential vulnerabilities.

  • Multi-device useAs Instagram is now accessible on desktop, the young person in your care can login to their account without their mobile phone. This could be a potential distraction from schoolwork or a way to access Instagram even if they are restricted from using it. There is also a risk they could login using a public desktop computer (at school, library, etc.) and forget to logout, leaving their account vulnerable.

  • Over-exposureIf the child in your care decides to collaborate with another user, this means their account becomes viewable to the other user’s followers.  They are able to view their account (though not their posts if the account is set to private) and can private message them or request to follow them. Remember: even if you set privacy controls on your child’s account, these controls may not be the same on the other user accounts in the collaboration.

  • Video pushWith Instagram trying to include more features for video content, it makes it more appealing to young people, especially those already using TikTok or YouTube Shorts. Videos can be more difficult to control as they move, meaning a child or young person could accidentally capture sensitive information while filming a video without realising, such as location clues or school uniformsIt also takes longer to record and edit a video. This might encourage users to spend more time on the app to “perfect” their video posts. 

Our Top Safety Tips

  • Consider setting up an Instagram profile to understand what your child or young person is experiencing. Even if you do not follow them, you will have a grasp on what they like about the platform and the risks it can pose to them.  
  • Discuss the importance of privacy settings with those in your care. Together, ensure devices are set up with the appropriate safety settings. Use our Safety Centre to walk and talk them through options such as blockingmuting, and reporting. 

  • Together, set up two-factor authentication to make sure they are completely in control of their account and information.  

  • Encourage the child in your care to set their account to ‘private’. This means they will have to manually accept and reject follow requests, and their grid posts/stories/reels will remain locked to the public. Talk to them about why it’s important to only accept requests (follow, private message, collaborator) from people they know in real life.  

  • Remind them that Instagram is only a small glimpse of “real life”. People often exaggerate how good or bad things are to get a like or comment. Ask them who they would talk to if they saw something on Instagram that made them uncomfortable and use our Trusted Adult resources to help them make a plan.  

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