The app will begin to show a pop-up notification prompting users to add their birthdays.
Instagram: Social media platform Instagram is now going to ask users for their birthday, if the users have not already added it in. This was announced by the Facebook-owned platform on Monday, when it said that this was being done to personalise users’ experience on the app. The app will begin to show a pop-up notification prompting users to add their birthdays. While that might bother some users, what’s more is that users would only be able to dismiss this pop-up notification a few times before they would be needed to fill in this piece of information.
The decision is said to be a part of Instagram’s move to make the platform more safe for the younger audience by adding some safety features. These features not only include the teen privacy protections that the photo sharing app had brought in earlier this year, but also Instagram’s longer-term plan to bring out a version meant for users under the age of 13 years.
In March this year, the company had added a slew of features that made it difficult for adults to get in contact with teens through the app, and more changes regarding the default settings of accounts for new users under 16 years in age were announced by Instagram in July. The accounts of these children are being made private on default and have been limited in being suggested elsewhere in the app. Moreover, adults who have been flagged as “potentially suspicious” are also being restricted from reaching out to minor users or to interact with their posts.
The birthday pop-up would only be shown to users who have not yet filled in this detail in the app, and this would start being rolled out this week itself, the Facebook-owned platform said. Users would get the option to choose “Not Now” for a few times, but after a few times, this option would no longer be available to them and they would have to fill their birthday in. As a result, eventually, everyone would have to share their birthday with the platform.
But that is not all. Till now, whenever any sensitive content was flagged with a “Hidden” warning, users could choose to view the content anyway. Now, though, if a user has not shared their birthday with the platform already, Instagram would require users to fill in their birthday to be able to see such content.
The birthday entry form is not complex, though, since it would just require users to scroll and select their birth date, month and year.
However, it is known that children often lie about their ages and birthdays on such apps. Instagram addressed this issue in its announcement. “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,” it said.
However, adding birthdays is not just important from a privacy and safety point of view. This data point would make a great addition to data for targeted ads, and though Instagram has restricted marketers from using interest data and in-app activity of teens to display targeted ads to them, age, location and gender-based ad targeting would continue to be allowed for marketers.