Instagram will now require new users to provide their date of birth when setting up an account, the company has revealed.
At present, users have to be at least 13 years old to create an Instagram account. Armed with this information, Instagram said it would be able to ensure that young people were not targeted with age-restricted products.
However, the company has dismissed this as the motivator behind the change in policy.
In a blog post, the firm said: “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.
“We will use the birthday information you share with us to create more tailored experiences, such as education around account controls and recommended privacy settings for young people.”
It will also help the platform ensure that children are not being exposed to adult-focused advertisements for gambling and alcohol. Instagram has also said that over the coming weeks it will encourage young users to activate more of the platform’s privacy settings.
“Understanding how old people are is quite important to the work we’re doing, not only to create age-appropriate experiences but to live up to our longstanding rule to not allow access to young people,” Instagram’s head of product Vishal Shah told Reuters.
Presently, existing users will not be asked to disclose their age because the Facebook-owned company is unsure if users will view it as too intrusive. Although new users are being asked for their age, the company will not verify the information.
- Global Police Shut Down 30,000 Web Domains Over IP Crimes
- New Edinburgh Fintech Secures £500k Seed Funding
- Facebook Encryption Could Lead to “One-stop Grooming Shop”, NSPCC Warns
In a statement, child-protection charity NSPCC said: “Asking users to provide an unverifiable date of birth will do nothing in practice to protect children from harmful or age-inappropriate content.
“Forthcoming regulation will force platforms to go further and will require them to take steps to proactively apply additional protections to children’s accounts by default.
“But first and foremost the emphasis has to be on ensuring that platforms are safe in the first place for children to use.”
Facebook said: “We understand not everyone will share their actual age. How best to collect and verify the age of people who use online services is something that the whole industry is exploring and we are committed to continuing to work with industry and governments to find the best solutions.”