New members on Instagram will be asked to provide their date of birth when setting up an account as the platform plans to make its platform more age appropriate.
The photo-sharing app sets its age limit to 13- people registering must be at least 13. Asking for people’s age might help the company ads targeting. However, Instagram says this is not the case.
“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,” the company emphasised in a blog post.
Instagram said it hopes to make the platform have a better experience with the new settings. With the new information, underaged users will not see advertisements for gambling, alcohol, birth control and other kinds of advertisement being displayed to children. It said it will encourage younger users to switch on more privacy settings in the coming week.
“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,” the photo-sharing app said.
Facebook said existing member will not be currently asked to provide their age as that might seem intrusive and neither will they be asked to verify the date of birth given in the information they had previously provided.
Nevertheless, the child protection charity NSPCC criticised the plan saying that the ne development does not in any way protect children from inappropriate content.
“Asking users to provide an unverifiable date of birth will do nothing in practice to protect children from harmful or age-inappropriate content…Forthcoming regulation will force platforms to go further and will require them to take steps in proactively apply additional protections to children’ accounts by default,” the child protection organisation said with an emphasis that social networks should work towards ensuring safety for kids on their platforms especially for kids.
Age verification is obviously not the way to go. Many people on social media lie about their ages. It’s quite easy to fake a name, a face, an age. Just anything. Requesting new users to include an age, changes nothing. A 12-year-old could claim to be 40. How does the platform hope to find out to protect them?
“We understand not everyone will share their actual age. How best to collect and verify the age of people who use online services that the whole industry is exploring and we are committed to continuing to wok with industry and governments to find the best solutions,” Facebook said.
There are many underaged children on both platforms. While Instagram is thinking the best way to keep its platform safe is to demand a date of birth as a child protection initiative, it has no way to verify that the users are telling the truth.