To create safer experiences for young people, Instagram will start asking users to share their birthday if they haven’t shared it previously. Picture: Thomas White/Reuters
To create safer experiences for young people, Instagram will start asking users to share their birthday if they haven’t shared it previously. Picture: Thomas White/Reuters

Instagram to start asking users for their birthday to make app safer for young people

By Dhivana Rajgopaul Time of article published Aug 31, 2021

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TO CREATE safer experiences for young people, Instagram will start asking users to share their birthday if they haven’t shared it previously.

The information that users provide will also allow Instagram to personalise the experience of using the app. Instagram will restrict advertiser targeting options for audiences under the age of 18 to more people, as well as show users more relevant ads.

For users who have not disclosed their birthdays, Instagram will introduce two new changes:

1. Instagram will ask the user their birthday when they open the app. The notification will pop up a handful of times, and if the user has not provided their birthday by a certain point, the user will need to share the information to continue using Instagram.

2. If users see warning screens placed on posts, Instagram will ask the user for their birthday before the user can see the post. These screens are not new and are already shown on posts that may be sensitive or graphic, but Instagram does not ask for a user’s birthday when viewing these posts. Now, Instagram will start asking for birthday details on some of these screens.

Instagram has also recognised that some people used the wrong birthday, and is developing new systems to address the issue. They are using artificial intelligence to estimate how old people are based on things such as “Happy Birthday” posts.

In future, if someone says that they’re above a certain age, and the technology says otherwise, Instagram will show the user a menu of options to verify their age. This work is still in its early stages.

Other changes that Instagram has made to make the app safe for young users include preventing adults from sending messages to people under 18 who don’t follow them, as well as a default setting that will make new accounts that belong to people under the age of 16 private.

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