If you want to use Instagram in the years to come, you are going to have to reveal your birthday. On Monday, Instagram shared a blog post explaining that in order to “create safer, more private experiences for young people,” the company needs to know how old everyone on the app is. As such, the app has started asking users to share their birthdays if they haven’t already.
As Pavni Diwanji, VP of Youth Products at Instagram, notes, this information enables important new security features. For example, in March, Instagram made it impossible for adults to send messages to users under 18 that don’t follow them. In July, Instagram started defaulting new accounts to users under 16 into a private setting. Additionally, the company restricted advertiser targeting options for users under 18. None of this would be possible without knowing birthdays.
If you’ve signed up for Instagram within the past year, the app already has your birthday. Instagram began asking users for their birthdays in 2019. If you linked the Instagram account to your Facebook account, the app would automatically add the birthday listed on Facebook.
Instagram wasn’t as concerned with users that had already made accounts, but that’s now changing. If you haven’t provided your birthday, expect to see a notification asking about it whenever you open the app. The longer you ignore it, the more prominent it becomes, as you can see in the image atop this page. Eventually, you will have to share the date to continue using Instagram.
That’s just one of the ways that Instagram will try to sway you to share your birthday. Going forward, you won’t be able to see posts with warning screens until you share your birthday. Instagram added these screens to hide sensitive or graphic content, but it just took a tap to advance past the screen. From now on, they’ll be blocked for users that don’t share their birthdays.
If you plan to skirt this requirement by giving Instagram a fake birthday, you might need a new plan. Instagram will be “using artificial intelligence to estimate how old people are based on things like “Happy Birthday” posts.” If the birthday you provide doesn’t sync up with Instagram’s AI sleuthing, the app will ask you to verify your age. Instagram says this work is still early, so it doesn’t sound like it will be ready for primetime too soon.
In the meantime, if you haven’t already, it’s time to tell Instagram your birthday.