Instagram is to start asking those who sign up for their date of birth in a move the platform says is designed to “build a safer experience” for younger users.
The social media platform does not allow anyone under the age of 13 to sign up, however it has not previously required a date of birth when setting up an account.
Instagram and wider social media have been repeatedly accused of failing to do enough to protect young people who use their services, allowing them to be exposed to harmful content.
The criticism has formed part of calls from campaigners and politicians for stronger regulation of such platforms.
Instagram said it will soon also begin using birthday information to tailor experiences in the app, including the kind of information, account controls and privacy settings recommended to younger users.
In a blog post announcing the date of birth update, the Facebook-owned service said: “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.”
The company also confirmed any users with a connected Facebook account will see their date of birth from Facebook added to their Instagram account.
It said: “This is not public information and only you will be able to see it when viewing your own account information on Instagram. Editing your date of birth on Facebook will also change it on Instagram.
Starting today, we’ll ask for your birthdate when creating an account, and in the coming weeks, we'll give you more control over who can message you.
— Instagram (@instagram) December 4, 2019
“If you don’t have a Facebook account or if you have not connected your accounts, you can add or edit your birthday directly on Instagram.”
Also in the update, Instagram said it is changing its rules around direct messaging on the app.
It said the feature will enable users to allow only accounts they follow to directly message them or add them to group chats, tightening the existing rule which uses a request system to filter messages from people a user does not follow.