Instagram finally forbids access of users under 13 years. The social network will control the age of all new registrants via a simple form. But what about the children already enrolled? And why introduce these controls so late? Instagram’s answers are perplexing.
Previously, unlike the vast majority of social networks, anyone can register on Instagram, without any age restriction. Instagram will finally change things, and will now ask new users to indicate their age at the time of their first registration.
This procedure will “help us ensure the safety of young users and facilitate a more appropriate experience in terms of age”. The social network just aligns with others like Facebook, Snapchat or Tik Tok who all ask to fill in a birthday.
A measure that hides the non-compliance with regulations
You have to understand what is behind this announcement. Since its creation, Instagram has knowingly ignored the age of its users for several reasons. As explained by our colleagues at the TechCrunch website, the social network avoided the rules on the collection of personal information on minors.
If Instagram does not know the age of its users, the company can collect and store any personal data it wants regarding minors, without incurring legal liability. It also avoids paying a $ 40,000 fine for each violation of the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
By not asking the age of users, Instagram could not provide the necessary protections for minors on the platform. They were exposed to all kinds of content inappropriate for their age (violence, sex, drugs or other). We let you judge the justification of Instagram: “Historically, we didn’t require people to tell us their age because we wanted Instagram to be a place where everyone can express themselves fully — irrespective of their identity.” That seems like a pretty thin excuse.
Instagram did not provide more details regarding the verification process. In fact, new users will have to enter their age via a form. If you have a Facebook account, the birthday date registered on the social network will be transferred directly to Instagram.
Another question that remains unresolved, what will happen to the millions of children already registered on the social network? Will the social network check the age of all its users, as it should? When TechCrunch asked the social network about it, Instagram never gave an answer.