Instagram will soon require all users to provide their birthdate

Menlo Park, California - Instagram will require all users to provide their date of birth as part of new safety measures to boost child protection.

Instagram does not allow anyone under the age of 13 to join its platform, and will now keep track of every user's birthdate.
Instagram does not allow anyone under the age of 13 to join its platform, and will now keep track of every user's birthdate.  © IMAGO / NurPhoto

Since December 2019, new account holders have been asked to provide their birthdate during set-up, but now existing users will be compelled to do the same.

A notification that can be dismissed will appear a "handful of times" when opening the app at first, before a full-screen prompt will make it impossible to access the service without entering details.

Addressing concerns that children would lie about their age, Instagram said it is developing systems, such as using artificial intelligence, to estimate how old people are based on birthday posts.

The social media platform does not allow anyone under the age of 13 to join.

"We've been clear that we want to do more to create safer, more private experiences for young people," said Pavni Diwanji, vice president of youth products at Facebook. "To do that we need to know how old everybody is on Instagram, so we've started asking people to share their birthday with us if they haven't shared it previously."

Google recently announced a raft of privacy changes for children who use its search engine and YouTube platform, while TikTok said it is limiting the direct messaging abilities of accounts belonging to 16 and 17-year-olds. TikTok was recently the target of a billion-dollar class action lawsuit alleging the video app collects data from teens for targeted advertisements in violation of their privacy rights.

Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy at Britain's NSPCC charity, said "our data shows that Instagram is consistently the most common platform used by abusers to groom children, so it is positive that they are bringing about these changes, but they haven't provided any substantive information that explains how they will work and be effective."

The change comes on the heels of Instagram's new features designed to help fight online harassment and limit sensitive content.

Cover photo: IMAGO / NurPhoto

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