Social Media

To shield the young, Instagram insists on sharing birthdays to use the app

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on August 31, 2021

To benefit personalising targetted advertising based on age besides creating safety features for youth.

Instagram will start asking users to provide their birthday if they haven't already, the platform has announced.

"We’ve started asking people to share their birthday with us if they haven’t shared it previously," it said in a blog post.

The Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform had mandated it for new users to add their birth dates in 2019. Users with an older account were previously able to skip providing that information. However, Instagram will start asking such users to provide their birth date more often.

The platform will start asking such users for their birthday when they open Instagram.

"We’ll show you a notification a handful of times, and if you haven’t provided us with your birthday by a certain point, you’ll need to share it to continue using Instagram. This information is necessary for new features we’re developing to protect young people," it said.

New safety features

For posts with warning screens that are appropriate only for a certain age group, the platform will ask users for their birthdays before seeing the post.

These screens are shown to them on posts that may be sensitive or graphic. The platform will start asking for users' birthday on some of these screens if they haven’t shared them with Instagram previously.

"This information allows us to create new safety features for young people, and helps ensure we provide the right experiences to the right age group," it said.

The platform has been working on specific age-focused features recently. For instance, in March, it made specific changes to prevent adults from sending messages to people under 18 who don’t follow them, and last month, it started to default new accounts belonging to people under the age of 16 into a private setting.

"This information also allows us to personalise your experience," it further said.

This will include personalising targeted advertising based on age.

"For example, we can apply recent changes we made to restrict advertiser targeting options for audiences under the age of 18 to more people. It also helps us show you more relevant ads," it explained.

These new changes only apply to people who haven’t already shared their birthdays.

To leverage AI for verification

Separately, the platform will also leverage artificial intelligence to address users providing the wrong birth date. Facebook had recently detailed the technology in a blog post.

It will leverage AI to estimate how old people are based on “Happy Birthday” posts.

"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. This work is still in the early stages, and we look forward to sharing more soon," it explained.

Published on August 31, 2021

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