By Gaby Ndongo (3 mins read)
In the aim to make its platform safer for young users, social networking service Instagram has made it mandatory for a person to include his/her date of birth (DOB) when creating an account.
“Asking for this information will help prevent underage people from joining Instagram, help us keep young people safer and enable more age-appropriate experiences overall. Your birthday will not be visible to others on Instagram, but you’ll be able to see it when viewing your own private account information,” it adds.
Age-appropriate experience will involve preventing people, who are below the legal age brackets in different countries, from being exposed to alcohol advertisement when viewing status(es), for instance.
Despite the purpose of the account, be it for a hobby, the owner needs to include his/her DOB. If one finds a person younger than 13-years-old with an account, the account should be reported and deleted, unless if it is managed by a parent/manager and clearly outlines that the owner is under age.
Instagram accounts connected to Facebook accounts use the same DOB as that of Facebook. The date can be updated from the individual’s Facebook account. Users who only have Instagram accounts update their accounts using Instagram.
The decision – which was implemented from Wednesday, 4th December 2019 – comes in the wake of self-harm and suicidal posts that have been shared via Instagram, including the live feed of a Norwegian teenager committing suicide.
[TO WATCH] The Instagram Suicide Network (Documentary) BBC Stories
“Based on expert advice from academics and mental health organisations like the Samaritans in the UK (United Kingdom) and National Suicide Prevention Line in the US (United States), we aim to strike the difficult balance between allowing people to share their mental health experiences while also protecting others from being exposed to potentially harmful content,” said Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri.
From February of this year, the social networking service banned graphic images of self-harm, such as cutting.
“We will not show non-graphic, self-harm related content – such as healed scars . . . We are not removing this type of content from Instagram entirely, as we don’t want to stigmatize or isolate people who may be in distress and posting self-harm related content as a cry for help,” said Mosseri.
Other (upcoming) changes
By changing a few things in the “Apps and Website” section of the “Setting” category, third party apps and websites will (not) be able to access the user’s profile information: username or photos.
On the other hand, Instagram plans to introduce a new form of setting that allows for users to decline receiving direct messages, story replies and group message requests, as well as being added to group threads from people they do not follow.
The platform was launched in October 2010. It now consists of a total of 1 billion+ active users on a monthly basis and 500 million+ stories each day. TOJ
Reporting by Gaby Ndongo. Editing by Kupakwashe Kambasha and Hendrica Nkoana. Feature image: a screenshot of Instagram’s official account on Instagram. Image courtesy to Gaby Ndongo.