Instagram Will Now Require Users to Enter Their Birth Date as Part of New Protections for Youngsters
Instagram is taking the next step in its endeavor to better protect younger users by requiring all users who have not previously registered their date of birth to do so in the app, by upcoming regulatory regulations.
As you can see, the new prompts will ask users to enter their birthday, and if they do not, they will be barred from using the app until they enter the essential information. Before imposing usage restrictions, Instagram claims it will present the new prompts "a handful of times." In addition, when displaying warning boxes on postings, Instagram will begin asking for people's birth dates as another effort to persuade them to enter their age. As a result, all users will be required to enter their age information, which Instagram will utilize to better regulate and safeguard younger users from inappropriate exposure in the platform.
The change is the latest in a series of adjustments made by Instagram to better conform with increasing legislation regarding the safety of younger users. Rep. Kathy Castor introduced a bill last month to update the existing Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which would expand its coverage to include teenagers under the age of 18 (currently it only covers those under the age of 13) and make the rules apply to all sites that children and teens use, including social media apps. Other regions are pursuing similar measures, which will increase the pressure on all platforms to establish more stringent access limits and protections by the law.
Over the last few months, Instagram has been attempting to stay ahead of such changes. In March, Instagram imposed new restrictions on adults who wanted to send messages to users under the age of 18 who didn't follow them, and in July, Instagram rolled out a new mechanism that automatically puts teen users into private accounts and limits ad targeting for younger audiences. At the same time, Instagram is working on its 'Instagram for Kids' initiative, which has been highly criticized by child protection and safety organizations but which Facebook has stated that it will move on regardless.
The idea, according to Facebook, is that creating a dedicated Instagram app for younger users will diminish the incentive for them to join up for Instagram itself, though whether this will work in practice remains to be seen. However, Facebook's Messenger for Kids currently has over 7 million users, indicating that the company has some experience with the impact of such. Perhaps Instagram for Kids is the better option. We'll have to wait and see what happens.
Of course, teenagers will be able to get around these new prompts by entering a false birthday, so it's not a fool-proof system - though Instagram is working on detecting this as well.
So, if you declare you're over 18, maybe you'll have to prove it by answering questions about Britney Spears' back catalog or the characters of 'The OC' - or maybe (likely) Instagram will add more rigorous qualification methods to ensure it checks user ages. However, as previously stated, it is another step toward aligning with increased regulatory requirements and improving protection for younger users. In addition, if a user lies about their age to gain access to the app, Instagram may be legally exempt from accountability in such circumstances.
From this week, new prompts will appear for Instagram users who have not previously specified their age in the app.