This year, Instagram has become more devoted to protecting teenagers than ever. However, its latest effort is just… Silly. From now on, Instagram will prompt you to share your birthday. All. The. Time. Instagram cites “young people protection,” and warns that you won’t be able to use the app unless you share your birthday.
The changes only apply to people who haven’t already shared their (real or fake) birthday on Instagram. And if you’re one of them, you’ll start getting pop-up messages all over the app. “First, we’ll start to ask you for your birthday when you open Instagram,” the company writes in a blog post. You’ll even see the notification on posts, which you won’t be able to see unless you – yep, you guessed it – enter your birth date.
“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,” the company warns.
Okay, so, you may wonder why on Earth would Instagram bother you so much to share your date of birth? Well, the company claims that “this information is necessary for new features we’re developing to protect young people.” There are some posts that may not be suitable for youngsters, so Instagram wants to make sure that they can’t access them.
But you know why I find this silly? Lying about your birthday is the easiest thing in the world, especially on Instagram. Just enter a wrong date that makes you 18 or older and voila – you can access everything just like the big guys and gals.
What I find funny is that Instagram admits that it’s aware of this. “We recognize some people may give us the wrong birthday,” the company writes. However, it reportedly works on developing new systems to address this. “We’re using artificial intelligence to estimate how old people are based on things like ‘Happy Birthday’ posts,” Instagram writes. “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.” I wonder if the system counts on people who do provide the correct date of birth but choose a year that makes them older.
Instagram’s earlier 2021 updates were also aimed at protecting the young. In March, Instagram banned adults from messaging teenagers they don’t follow. In July, all accounts of kids under 16 were made private by default. Still, all these changes were based on the birthday users provide – and it’s so easy to lie about it. So, all these updates kinda lose their point, don’t they? If Instagram really wants to make these updates applicable and useful, the first thing to work on is some sort of proper age verification, and I do wonder if the upcoming tools will be of any use in the process.