Facebook's Instagram announced updates to the service aimed at building "a safer experience for the youngest members of the community."
If you’ve connected your Facebook account to your Instagram account, Instagram will add the date of birth that’s on your Facebook profile. This is not public information and only you will be able to see it when viewing your own account information on Instagram. Editing your date of birth on Facebook will also change it on Instagram. If you don’t have a Facebook account or if you have not connected your accounts, you can add or edit your birthday directly on Instagram.
In the coming months, Instagram says it will use the birthday information you share with the service to "create more tailored experiences, such as education around account controls and recommended privacy settings for young people."
Instagram said advertisers were not the driving force for the new requirement. Gambling and birth control are among other types of ads restricted to older audiences by Instagram policies and laws.
The policy change could help stave off passage of costly child safety and data privacy regulations as lawmakers and family safety groups in the United States, Britain and elsewhere criticize the app for exposing children to inappropriate material.
Instagram will not verify birthdates because teens often cannot prove their age, and it will still be left without birthdays of some existing users. Instagram expects most people will be honest about birthdates and said artificial intelligence could eventually aid verification.
The existing birthdays, along with some rough analysis by workers poring over posts mentioning “happy birthday” and other terms, has helped Instagram train machine learning software that predicts a user’s age and gender.
Lastly, Instagram is also taking steps to help you control who can send you direct messages on Instagram. This gives you the ability to allow only people you follow to message and add you to group threads. People who enable this setting will no longer receive messages, group message requests or story replies from anyone they have not chosen to follow.