Instagram will soon use age to offer tailored app experiences

Yolanda Curtis
December 5, 2019

While Instagram is painting this new policy of demanding a date of birth as a child protection initiative, it will not verify that young users are telling the truth about their birthdays.

But the reality is that children younger than 13 years old are often on social networks and photo sharing apps before that legal requirement. This will not only notify other people to remember the birthday of that person but also provide age-appropriate experiences.

Twitter did something similar previous year when the company began asking for users' ages in response to Europe's new privacy laws and ended up locking out many older users who had originally signed up for the service when they were under 13. But ever since it launched in 2010, it hasn't asked for users to specify their age.

"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", notes the blog post. TikTok now requires all users to enter their birthdays. However, the company will not inspect existing accounts belonging to existing users.

Instagram employs its predictions to understand usage patterns by age and gender.

Until now, Instagram required birthdates only in limited circumstances.

The social media company says that knowing someone's age means they can recommend specific privacy settings or generate in-app information about staying safe online. Earlier this year, YouTube paid the Federal Trade Commission a record $170 million to settle allegations that the company illegally collected children's personal information.

If users don't have a Facebook account or if their accounts are not connected, they can add or edit their birthdays directly on Instagram.

The AI will look at the posts people make and the hashtags they use to figure out someone's age.

Instagram is also taking steps to help users control who can send them direct messages. Shah believes that by using the feature, Instagram will raise reliability and transparency issues.

"Your birthday will not be visible to others on Instagram, but you'll be able to see it when viewing your own private account information."

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