Instagram asks for birthdates as part of kids’ online safety

Instagram is now requesting the birthdates from all new users and says it will offer new safety measures for youngsters.

The move by the social giant comes as it looks to expand its audiences for the purposes of advertising alcohol and other age-restricted products.

Until now, Instagram has – except in certain circumstances – only required its one billion global users to confirm they are at least 13 years old. But it says this new policy will help deter underage people from joining Instagram, help keep young people safer and enable more ‘age appropriate experiences’, reports the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Advertisers ‘not the driving force’

Instagram has, according to Reuters, said that advertisers are not the driving force for the new requirement. Gambling and birth control are among other types of ads restricted to older audiences by Instagram policies and laws.

Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, told Reuters: “Understanding how old people are is quite important to the work we’re doing, not only to create age-appropriate experiences but to live up to our longstanding rule to not allow access to young people.”

He did not specify any age-based features in the testing, but said age could be the basis for recommended privacy settings or in-app education about staying safe online. Birthdates will not be visible to other users.

Teens cannot prove their age

The question of verification however remains an issue, as Instagram will not verify birthdates because teens often cannot prove their age, and it will still be left without birthdays of some existing users. Instagram expects most people will be honest about birthdates and said artificial intelligence could eventually aid verification.

Read Instagram’s statement here.

(Article includes reporting for Reuters by Paresh Dave; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Lincoln Feast)

Author: Simon Weedy

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