Instagram will require users to share their birthday, an update the company says is meant to protect young people using its app. The photo app already asks new users to provide a birthday when they sign up, a requirement that’s been in place since the end of 2019. But people who previously signed up may not have shared the information.
But over the “next few weeks” Instagram will begin prompting users who haven’t previously shared a birthdate to do so. While they will initially be able to dismiss the prompts, the app will eventually require birthdays from everyone.
For now, there’s two scenarios in which users will be asked for their birthdays. First, the app will show a notification “a handful of times.” A separate prompt may also appear if users try to view a post that’s hidden behind a warning screen. These warnings appear on “sensitive content” that might not break Instagram’s official rules, but could be considered borderline, such as “suggestive” images or photos of medical procedures. Users will no longer be able to view these posts until they provide a birthday, and younger teens may not be able to see these posts at all.
The company also says it will use artificial intelligence to detect when a user may have provided a false birthday, and that some users may be asked to “verify” their age. “In the future, if someone tells us they’re above a certain age, and our technology tells us otherwise, we’ll show them a menu of options to verify their age,” the company says. “This work is still in the early stages, and we look forward to sharing more soon.”
The changes are the latest as Instagram has tried to beef up security and privacy features for its youngest users. The company has also said it will switch to making younger teens’ accounts private by default, and has limited advertisers’ ability to target the demographic. It also recently introduced features to prevent adult strangers from messaging teens. Instagram has also said it’s in the early stages of thinking about a version of its service for users under the age of 13, which has prompted concern from lawmakers and other officials.