Until recently, Instagram, a social media network focused on photo and video content has been ignorant about its users’ age. Anyone can register an account, post, and view content without restrictions. This is about to change as Instagram will start asking new users about their birth date to bar kids under 13 from using the platform, TechCrunch reports.
However, over 1 billion of existing users won’t be asked to provide their birth dates. It means that any underage kids that have already had an account on Instagram will be left unnoticed and continue using the platform as usual.
Notably, other major social media networks, including Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat, have long been applying under-age policies. They ask users to provide information about their birth date when they register an account and limit the functionality accordingly. Thus, TikTok has a separate section for kids where they can watch videos, but not allowed to publish content or post comments.
However, Instagram has fallen behind its rivals so far. This ignorance about users’ age allowed them to avoid fines and penalties from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) violations. This act forbids online services to collect personal data about children under 13 years old.
“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,” an Instagram representative commented.
The date of birth will not be made public. Also, it will sync with Facebook and other social media accounts if a user chooses to connect them.
While adding an age check is considered as a long-needed step, it is still unclear how the network is going to verify the data submitted by users. Currently, the age checks existing on the vast majority of websites and services are rather a formal thing as kids can easily provide false data to get access to sensitive content.