Until now, users on Instagram were not required to provide their birthdate to sign up for the service, unless they had linked their Facebook and Instagram accounts. The photo-sharing platform’s 1 billion users only had to say they were 13 years old in order to create an Instagram account.
Though that is about to change, as new Instagram users will now have to give their birthdate in order to join the service. The decision appears to be focussed ‘creating age-appropriate experiences’ so that users below a certain age group aren’t exposed to inappropriate material. The new policy goes into effect on December 4, 2019.
“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 said in an interview with Reuters.
The new age requirement is likely to generate content on the photo-sharing service that is suitable for a user’s age. Birthdays will remain hidden from other users. Also, current users of the service do not need to provide their birthdate for now. Instagram also explained that age could be the basis for recommended privacy settings and in-app education about online safety.
Apart from birthdate requirement, Instagram also announced that it’ll allow users to block messages from users they do not follow. Besides, it’ll also give business and creator accounts the ability to restrict minors from seeing their posts. Notably, Instagram also stated that it won’t verify birthdays, as the company expects users to be honest about their birthdate.
Besides, Instagram can also rely on machine learning and AI to gauge users’ birthdates. The company already uses trained machine learning software to determine users’ ages and gender, which views their posts as well the hashtags they use for data.