Eight months after announcing plans to make age verification mandatory, Instagram is forcing users to submit their date of birth to use the app. With this new update, the app is trying to restrict its access to kids below the age of 13 years and use the information to better target customers with ads.
Users are complaining that Instagram is showing a screen that is asking users to enter their date of birth and a user can’t avoid it. “Before you can continue using Instagram, you need to provide your birthday, even if this account is for something like a business or pet,” the screen prompt reads. “This helps us protect younger people in our community. We’ll also use your birthday to help personalise your experience, including ads. It won’t be part of your public profile.”
Some of the users have also taken to Twitter and complained about Instagram’s move to forcefully ask for their birth date.
The age verification feature was optional when it started in 2019. Last year the Meta-backed photo-sharing app made it mandatory to provide date of birth details through prompts to let users fill in the information in the midst of looking at the photos and videos in their feed or uploading new content for their followers. However, these prompts could have been bypassed, until now.
Although young users can bypass restrictions by giving their fake birth date details, both Instagram — and Facebook —have artificial intelligence (AI) backed systems to detect the accurate age of its users, like through birthday wishes, or age used in apps linked to Facebook, etc.
Last year Meta was found to be working on the kids’ version of the Instagram app, to be called Instagram for kids to cater to growing interest from young users and act on strong criticism from government bodies including for increasing Instagram’s use among kids. But the plan was dropped in September after advocacy groups and authorities protested. Nevertheless, Meta has not yet completely scrapped its plans for developing Instagram for Kids.
With the age restrictions in place for the present version, it will help Instagram to redirect its young audience to the new app if it is launched in the near future. From a business perspective, Meta will generate more ad revenues by serving targeted ads through age information from users.