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Instagram introduces birthday checks to create ‘age-appropriate’ experiences

By John Glenday | Reporter

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December 5, 2019 | 3 min read

Facebook-owned Instagram has enacted a major policy change to limit access to content restricted to older audiences, such as gambling, alcohol and birth control. From now, all new users must provide their date of birth when signing up.

The measure follows criticism on both sides of the Atlantic that Instagram and others are routinely exposing children to inappropriate content, raising the spectre of tough new child safety and privacy regulations.

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Instagram introduces birthday checks to create ‘age-appropriate’ experiences

Despite this Instagram still won’t verify ages supplied by its members with the measure merely brings the platform into line with Facebook, suggesting Instagram has further to go if it wishes to draw a line under the issue.

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Speaking to Reuters, Instagram’s head of product Vishal Shah said: “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.”

Thus far Instagram has operated a blanket policy which merely requests confirmation from users that they are over 13 years of age, except for special cases, presaging a series of scandals including the suicide of one young member exposed to self-harm content.

The new rules follow a wave of advertiser angst over the issue with many withdrawing to support for content not deemed to be brand safe. Although Instagram denies that this was the deciding factor in its policy shift.

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