Instagram must know your birthday — and is working on spotting the liars

Facebook-owned social media platform Instagram will now require users to provide their birthdays to use its app if they have not yet done so.

In a blog post on Monday, Instagram vice president of youth products, Pavni Diwanji, explained the change would help the company make the popular image sharing platform safer for its young users.

“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,” Diwanji stated.

This comes after other safety-focused changes to the app were rolled out in recent months.

In March, Instagram began preventing adults from sending messages to people under 18 who don’t follow them. Last month, it started defaulting new accounts belonging to people under the age of 16 into a private setting.

In addition, having access to users’ ages will allow Instagram to show content and ads that are more relevant to them.

“This information also allows us to personalise your experience. For example, we can apply recent changes we made to restrict advertiser targeting options for audiences under the age of 18 to more people,” Diwanji said.

Diwanji explained users who have not shared their birthday yet would begin receiving a notification to submit the date “a handful of times”, and if they haven’t provided it by a certain point, they will no longer be able to use the app.

The app will also start asking for a user’s birthday if they try to view certain posts with warning screens that they may contain sensitive or graphic content, as shown in the screenshots below.

Diwanji said Instagram was aware that some people might lie about their birthdays but said it was 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,” Diwanji said.

“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.”

Instagram’s work on this is still in its early stages, and the company plans to share more on it soon.

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Instagram must know your birthday — and is working on spotting the liars