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Features & Columns

Instagram Now Requires New Users To Provide Their Birthdate

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Instagram Now Requires New Users To Provide Their Birthdate

2019-12-06 17:20:271 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

 By Chanel Adams,  Image source: : Pexels/energepic.com

 Instagram revealed that it’s going to start asking new users to provide their birthdays. This comes over concerns about teens and children using the app. Back in 2018, it was reported that teens were leaving Snapchat for Instagram. Even influencers have seen the importance of Instagram Stories. According to a new report, new users will have to verify their age in order to use the social media app.

Instagram is going to require all new users to provide their birthdays when they create an account. The new requirements kicked off on Thursday, Dec. 5. The reason behind this change is to create “age-appropriate experiences,” claims the company. For example, a user’s age must require certain privacy settings or could be used to generate in-app information about online safety, the company revealed in a blog post. However, birthdays will be hidden from other users, and existing users aren’t required to verify their ages.

As of right now, users have to be 13 or older to join the social media. That can be a problem since some would argue that 13 is way too young to be using Instagram. The social media app is known for its use of marketing weight loss products and diet aids. Kids who actively use the social media app will assume that they need these products in order to stay in shape. Instagram clearly has an age-verification problem, according to Tech Crunch.

The problem is the company won’t verify its youngest of users who are currently on the platform. Instagram has found away to do with child safety laws. By refusing to ask users their age at signup, they can feign ignorance about how old they really are. Instagram avoids being held responsible for $400,000 per violation of the Child Online Privacy Protection Act. This law bans online platforms from collecting information about children under 13 without their parents’ consent.

Instagram has got to be saving sensitive information about its underage users that currently use the app. But the company declares that it can’t keep up with its existing users. Critics claim that Instagram has to do more when it comes to protecting children on the app, even if that means removing them from the platform entirely. Not only should Instagram verify users’ age when they create an account, they should verify their accurate birthdate through all means. If the company wants to include teens and tweens on the app, then they need to create a safe space where their personal information isn’t collected.

Even though Instagram has rolled out age-verification on its app, it’s only for new users. That means over 1 billion exiting users won’t be verified to ensure they’re over the age of 13. In the past, new users won’t required enter their birthdate at signup. That wasn’t the case until users started to combine their Instagram and Facebook accounts. For example, minors in the European Union have included their birthdays so that Facebook would comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Instagram also plans to roll out other safety features overtime. The company will also allow users to block message from people they don’t know. In addition, they will allow businesses and creators to restrict minors from accessing their posts, according to a Reuters report. Instagram believes that most of its existing users are honest about their age, but they might rely on the use of artificial intelligence to help determine some of their users’ ages.

Instagram employees will verify users’ ages by sifting through posts that read “happy birthday.” The company is also using machine learning software to predict their existing users’ age and gender. In order for this to work, they will look at the posts people created and the hashtags they used for this data. Both users and legislators have criticized Instagram for its ability to attract minors’ attention. The company has been trying to revamp itself in an effort to keep up with Snapchat and TikTok, two other social media apps that are extremely popular with minors.

Teens have complained about the amount of social media bullying they receive on Instagram. Hopefully, the new age verification will help tailor their experiences to create a more positive experience. It could also prevent minors from seeing weight loss ads or other ads that could be inappropriate for their age group. But Instagram still has a lot of work to do when it comes to ensuring the safety of its youngest users.

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