By Jessica Mathews /

A free program that helps keep kids safe from adult-oriented ads via text and email is now offering protection on social media accounts.

Michigan’s ProtectMiChild Registry is a free and secure program offered by the Secretary of State since 2014 that families and schools can use to block ads for products like alcohol, tobacco, pornography and online gambling from reaching children’s email inboxes, tablets, cell phones or instant messenger IDs.

Unspam, the company that provides governments with do-not-contact services, has now expanded its coverage to include protection from ads on Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter without affecting the way the apps are used. Marketers that do not comply with the Michigan Children’s Protection Registry Act are subject to fines and penalties.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson made the announcement Thursday. She said many kids spend a great deal of time on social media apps and the update of the ProtectMiChild Registry can help shield them from unwanted advertising content that would otherwise reach them. Benson added the registry has been protecting children from age-inappropriate messages in Michigan for more than 15 years and remains an important resource for families in the state.

Concerned parents or schools can register the electronic addresses for any devices children use at The registry will block adult internet ads for all registered contact points – such as an email address, smartphone number, instant messenger ID or social media usernames - for three years or until the youngest child with access to the contact point reaches the age of 18. Registrations can be renewed at any time for an additional three-year period.

Once the information has been entered into the registry, companies that send messages that advertise or link to prohibited products or services are required to remove the registered contact email, phone number, IM or social media account within 30 days from their mailing lists.

Michigan became the first state in the nation to launch a child protection registry in 2005.

Responsibility for the registry was transferred to the Department of State from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs by executive order in 2014. Since the registry began, approximately 900,000 contact points have been shielded from unwanted ads with adult content.