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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Instagram unveils birthdate requirement to battle child abuse

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Under the new policy, all Instagram users will be required to enter their birthdate before before using the app.

Facebook has announced that its video and photo sharing platform Instagram will now require all its users to enter their birthdate before using the app, as the company ramps up efforts to create a child-safe experience for minors.

Users who sign up for the app have been required to enter their birthdate since 2019. Now, existing users will be asked to provide their age upon opening the app.

If the request is dismissed, Instagram will blur posts that are marked as sensitive in the short term. However, the app will eventually require all users to add their birthdate in order to continue using Instagram at all.

Protection or privacy: Should Apple scan your iPhone for child abuse content?

“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,” said Facebook in a statement.

In March, Facebook introduced changes that prevent adults from sending messages to people under 18 who don’t follow them. In July, the company started to default new users under the age of 16 into private accounts.

More updates from the company include preventing advertisers from targeting audiences under 18 by using any information other than their basic demographic information.

These updates help Facebook comply with the age-appropriate design code, which was recently enforced by the UK and requires companies to identify child users and make amendments to secure their personal data, limit attempts to alter their behaviour, and ensure their wellbeing.

Organisations have until 2 September 2021 to ensure their compliance to the age-appropriate design code.

Other companies are also taking action.

Apple Inc recently said it will activate child abuse detection system to scan photo libraries on iPhones to detect images associated with child abuse stored on its online iCloud feature.

Companies including TikTok and Google have also recently made changes to how they treat child users.

However, not all companies have attributed the UK legislation for their recent product updates.

According to statement by a Facebook spokesperson, the company’s move to introduce stricter privacy settings for children “wasn’t based on any specific regulation, but rather on what’s best for the safety and privacy of our community”.

Although Instagram does not require users to share proof that their birthdate is accurate, such as through scanning identification cards, the platform does utilise a variety of techniques to identify children who have input fake information when signing up.


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