Go Shawty, it’s your birthday! 🎵
In my mind, this song is the unofficial theme tune to Instagram’s latest update to its teen privacy protections.
The app will soon be prompting users to add their date of birth if they haven’t already.
If you’re impatient to see your feed, you can dismiss the prompt but only for a set (as yet undisclosed) number of times before it will become a requirement to use the app.
Now at first glance, this may seem like they are just trying to collect yet more data on you, but let’s be honest Facebook Inc probably already knows your birthday.
And Instagram does have a pretty good reason for asking for your date of birth this time.
It is hoped that by doing so, its AI will be able to flag ‘potentially suspicious’ adult accounts and restrict how they reach out and interact with accounts held by minors.
Now the sceptics among you may wonder if dodgy gits will just lie to bypass this new update. After all, it’s widely known that kids lie on this type of prompt all the time just to create an account.
However, Instagram is developing a way to combat this.
Whilst still in its early days, the AI will look at interactions such as other users wishing you a happy birthday (especially if they mention the specific age) alongside other signals to estimate your true age and compare it to the age you’ve stated.
As it’s still in its early stages Instagram hasn’t revealed too much about the system, but it is believed to also include a range of options that will allow users to verify their age.
This is the latest in a recent spate of updates, which started in March – the main one being that any account help by someone 16 years old or younger will default to private – reducing the chance it will be shown as a suggested profile for other users to follow.
As well as tightening up its protection for teenagers, this birth date update will also allow Instagram to better gauge the age range of its users.
This additional date will undoubtedly be beneficial for selling targeted adverts but it will also help if it decides to push ahead with plans to launch an Under 13’s Instagram style app.
The idea of an Instagram app for under 13’s received an aggressively hostile reception when the idea was first floated.
Many activists and individuals alike expressed concern at how the app would affect the mental wellbeing of young children – given its widely reported negative effects on adults and young people.
Alongside the worries over mental health, with young children also comes the concern for physical and digital safety. Whilst Instagram is moving to make its apps more secure it will be hard to be completely sure who is behind an account.
Unless of course, we enter the realm of verified identification for social media accounts – but that is a whole other can of worms.