The prolific image based social media platform Instagram will begin requiring new users to input their birth date to prevent users under 13 from using the platform. Instagram will be syncing birth dates from Facebook for users who have Facebook linked to their Instagram (SOURCE). Users birth dates will not be visible to others.
This change comes significantly later than other social networking platforms such as Facebook which have long been asking users to input their birth date.
Protecting under 13s online in an increasingly digital world is important. Minors under 13 do not yet understand the potential risks on social media, and may face dangers in the form of cyber-bullying, predatory adults, or even simply posting content that may have consequences when they reach adulthood.
The Child Online Privacy Protection Act 1998 (COPPA) stipulates that services cannot collect personal information from under 13s without parental consent. This includes information such as name, address, phone number, and screen name (SOURCE). Online services that aren’t directed towards children under 13 require “actual knowledge” that they are collecting information from an under 13 year old (SOURCE). While Instagram already requires users to be 13, by previously not asking users for their birth date, the platform has been able to circumvent liability under this law (SOURCE).
However, users under 13 can use a false birth date. Instagram will not be verifying the information given. COPPA is unable to protect minors who do this (SOURCE).