Instagram will start getting users to share their birthday with the service, if they haven’t already. The company announced today that it will now begin to appear a notification asking you to add your birthday to “customize your experience.” But the prompt can only be rejected a handful of times before it becomes a requirement. The move is part of Instagram’s larger goal of creating new security features aimed at younger users, the company explains. This includes the privacy protection for teens that was introduced earlier this year, as well as Instagram’s long-term plan to launch a version of the service aimed at users under 13 years of age.
In March, Instagram launched new features that made it harder for adults to contact teens through the app. So in July, the company announced a major series of changes to the default settings for new users under 1
Starting this week, Instagram says that users who have not yet shared their birthday will start seeing alerts when they open the Instagram app.
These alerts will appear a handful of times, but at some point, users will no longer be able to reject the message by pressing “Not Now.” Instead, everyone will eventually be required to share their birthday in order to continue using Instagram.
The company will also now ask you to share your birthday information when you come across a post with a warning screen. These screens, which hide content marked as sensitive or graphic, are not new. But Instagram has never before asked for a user’s birthday before the hidden content was shown.
The birthday itself is not complicated. You just scroll to select the month, day and year for your birthday.
Of course, it is common for children to be on these listing forms to circumvent restrictions when signing up for apps. On this front, Instagram has developed AI technology to identify accounts where children may have lied. For example, it may be possible to deduce someone’s birthday based on comments left on “Happy Birthday” posts, where the user’s age can be referenced. The company also suggests further plans in this area, noting how it will later require users to confirm age when Facebook’s technology determines a mismatch between the age the user submitted and what appears to be their real age, based on other signals.
This technology is still in its “early stages”, says Instagram, but will include a menu of options that allow anyone to control their age.
The need to have users’ birthdays at hand is not just meant to power the newly launched teen protection features. Instagram is also working to bring its app to younger users – a decision that has been met with a hostile response from lawmakers and consumer groups. In addition, age is still an important data target for ad targeting. Although Instagram withdrew the ability of marketers to target teens using interest data or their activity on other apps, it will continue to allow ad targeting based on age, gender, and location across age groups.
The company is now one of several that have rolled out extra protection for younger teenage users, ahead of regulations that would force them to do so. During this year, TikTok, YouTube and Google have also announced changes to how younger teens can use their services and how they can be targeted by ads, pending a regulatory breakdown. Although each has created its own set of teen security features independently, the changes have largely focused on making the default settings for new teen users more restrictive.
Instagram says that the new pop-up alerts about birthdays will start appearing this week on the mobile app and will continue to roll out in the coming weeks to reach more users.