Instagram, in a Press Release yesterday, announced that it will be requiring birthdays on all accounts going forward. The move is the latest of several that the Facebook owned social media platform has taken to make it a safer place for children and teens. If you have already provided your birthday to the company, you are good-to-go. Otherwise, you will be prompted for the information. The company is also developing Artificial Intelligence to catch those who provide an inaccurate birthday.
We’ve been clear that we want to do more to create safer, more private experiences for young people. To do that we need to know how old everybody is on Instagram, so we’ve started asking people to share their birthday with us if they haven’t shared it 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. Recent examples include changes we made in March to prevent adults from sending messages to people under 18 who don’t follow them, and last month we started to default new accounts belonging to people under the age of 16 into a private setting.
This information also allows us to personalize your experience, 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.
This work began a few years ago when we started asking people for their birthday. While we have birthdays for most people on Instagram, to get a more complete picture we’re introducing two new changes. These changes only apply to people who haven’t already shared their birthday.
First, we’ll start to ask you for your birthday when you 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.
Second, if you see warning screens placed on posts, we’ll ask you for your birthday before you can see the post. These screens aren’t new, and we already show them on posts that may be sensitive or graphic, but we don’t currently ask for your birthday when viewing these posts. Now, we’ll start asking for your birthday on some of these screens if you haven’t shared it with us previously.
We recognize some people may give us the wrong birthday, and we’re developing new systems to address this. As we shared recently, we’re using artificial intelligence to estimate how old people are based on things like “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.
We hope this explains why we’re starting to ask some people for their birthday, and why it is so important for our efforts to provide safer, more private experiences for young people. For more information, head to our Help Center.