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Instagram taking steps to ensure users are over 13 years old

The app will now ask users to provide their birth dates to confirm their age.

Dec 5, 2019, 12:44 am*

Tech

Mikael Thalen 

Mikael Thalen

Instagram announced new efforts on Wednesday aimed at keeping kids from accessing the platform.

A blog post from the social media company states that several updates have been made to “build a safer experience for the youngest members of our community.”

While Instagram’s terms of use have long stated that users must be 13 years old in most countries in order to create an account, little has been done to enforce the rule. Now, the photo- and video-sharing app will ask users for their birth dates to confirm they are eligible to use the service.

“Asking for this information will help prevent underage people from joining Instagram, help us keep young people safer and enable more age-appropriate experiences overall,” the blog post reads.

Instagram also stressed that at no point will users’ birthdays be visible to other people on the app.

“This is not public information, and only you will be able to see it when viewing your own account information on Instagram,” the company wrote.

However, these changes will only apply to new users, according to TechCrunch. This means that children who have already made an account will not be asked to confirm their birthdays.

Instagram said that aside from verification purposes, users’ birth dates will eventually be used in the coming months “to create more tailored experiences, such as education around account controls and recommended privacy settings for young people.”

Such efforts are arguably more about protecting Instagram from liability than actually confirming the ages of users. Instagram, like many apps that ask for users’ birth dates, often has no way to confirm that the information provided is actually accurate.

The Federal Trade Commission fined video-sharing app TikTok $5.7 million just last February after it allegedly collected data on children. The app has since created an entirely separate service for its younger users.

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*First Published: Dec 4, 2019, 5:16 pm