As part of a broader effort to make its platform safer for young users, Instagram will now require everybody to share their birthday. If you don’t want to give that data to Instagram, you eventually won’t be able to use the app at all.
Instagram says the goal is to create a safer, more privacy-oriented experience for children who use the platform — and to keep them away from potentially predatory adults.
Earlier this year, the Facebook-owned company announced that it would be launching a variety of new features designed to protect users under the age of 18. Those features have included private profiles for children, restrictions on who can message them, and algorithms designed to identify and censure adult users who show signs of creepy behaviour. Now Instagram has said it will be adding a basic age-verification feature.
Soon when you log in, Instagram will prompt you to add your birthday (if you haven’t already added it). You’ll be prompted a number of times to voluntarily enter your DOB. If you haven’t shared it by a certain point, Instagram will basically lock you out until you’ve provided one.
To side-step users who enter incorrect birthday information, the company plans to leverage a new algorithm designed to analyse your posts and determine whether you’re telling the truth about how old you are or not. Not a whole lot of details are provided, but the company summarized its plans briefly:
“We recognise some people may give us the wrong birthday, and we’re developing new systems to address this,” Instagram wrote. “As we shared recently, we’re using artificial intelligence to estimate how old people are based on things like “Happy Birthday” posts.” Creepy or innovative? You decide.
In general, age verification seems like a pretty common sense, boiler-plate feature for social media platforms to have, even as a way to identify who is using the platform and to cut down on catfishing.
At the same time, Instagram has also been plotting to release a version of its platform specifically targeted at children under 13. Such a shift clearly requires a focus on increased privacy protections, as the company attempts to reel in a particularly vulnerable online demographic.