File Image: Facebook and Instagram

Facebook and Instagram will block under-18s from viewing sexual content from as early as next year, it has been claimed.

The social networks plan to ‘age-gate’ several types of sexually explicit content for users across the globe from the beginning of 2020. 

Teenagers under the age of 18 will be banned from viewing sexualised adverts, fictional depictions of sex and artistic portrayals of nudity or sex acts, among others, the Daily Telegraph reports. 

But the restrictions, which are due to come in on both platforms, will rely solely on teenagers inputting their own ages, making it easy for them to lie and view inappropriate content anyway. 


Under the new measures, underage users will get an error message if they declare they are under 18 and try to load sexual content. 

But with more than 60,000 UK Facebook users under the age of 12 when the age restriction is 13, they could prove fruitless. 

The new rules concern certain types of sexual content, but do not apply to overtly explicit content, which is already widely banned. 

It does not apply to ‘explicitly educational’ sexual images and video or to naked images intended for breastfeeding mothers or cancer survivors. 

Last year the artist Ruben Cordova was permanently banned from Facebook after he uploaded pictures of a nude sculpture. 

Facebook, which also owns Instagram, consulted 25 experts including LGBT, diversity and free speech activists as well child-safety campaigners, on the move. 

Andy Burrows, the NSPCC head of child safety online policy, told MailOnline: ‘It is good to see Facebook taking steps in recognition of the fact that there is content on their platforms that’s unsuitable for children.

‘But these measures look like little more than tinkering around the edges, rather than tackling the more profound clear-cut dangers from grooming and abuse every day on their platforms. 

‘Facebook already has the tech to micro-target ads at under-18s so we simply can’t understand why they won’t use the same tech to put safeguards in place.’