Instagram will require users to share their birthday as part of safety push

The app is even developing new technology to detect if users enter a false birth date

Instagram will now start asking users to share their birthday, if they haven't already. Reuters
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Instagram will begin requiring users to confirm their birthdays as part of an effort to create new safety features for young people.

Instagram has explored building a version of its app for children under the age of 13, prompting lawmakers to urge Facebook to drop the plans, saying the social media company "has a clear record of failing to protect children on its platforms".

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said in a blog post on Monday that it will use the information to "ensure we provide the right experiences to the right age group".

"This information also allows us to personalise your experience. For example, we can apply recent changes we made to restrict advertiser targeting options for audiences under the age of 18 to more people. It also helps us show you more relevant ads," the post stated.

In July, the company said it would default users under 16 to a private account when they join the platform.

In March, the social media company also confirmed it would prevent adults from sending messages to people under 18 who don’t follow them.

The app said it will ask users for their birthdays when they open Instagram and then show several pop-up notifications if the user does not enter their birthday. At some point, users will be required to submit their birth date to continue using the app, Instagram said.

The changes will only affect Instagram users who have not previously shared their birthday on the app.

Users who have not shared their birthdays may also be required to enter the date when trying to access restricted content, such as posts that feature warning screens because of sensitive or graphic content.

"Now, we’ll start asking for your birthday on some of these screens if you haven’t shared it with us previously," the platform's blog post said.

Instagram also said it was aware that some users might enter a false birth date and that it was developing new technology to address such issues.

"As we shared recently, we’re using artificial intelligence to estimate how old people are based on things like 'Happy Birthday' posts. In the future, if someone tells us they’re above a certain age, and our technology tells us otherwise, we’ll show them a menu of options to verify their age," the blog post said.

"This work is still in the early stages, and we look forward to sharing more soon."

– Additional reporting by Reuters

Updated: August 31, 2021, 7:05 AM