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Enhanced age verification process needed for all social media platforms – Higgins

9th November 2022 - Emer Higgins, TD

Social media platform Instagram has introduced a new age verification tool that will help protect children from inappropriate and harmful content, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Deputy Emer Higgins, Dublin Mid West TD and Fine Gael Spokesperson on social media, praised the platform’s decision to improve technology to help verify the age of users.

Deputy Higgins said, “This major safety update has been long awaited by those of us campaigning for online safety. Starting this week, any child who tries to edit their birthday on Instagram from under 18 to over 18 will be asked to verify their age by either ID or through age estimation technology.

“In an age where technology is getting more and more advanced, in theory it should be easier to police our children’s experience on social media. In reality, many parents feel like it’s getting harder and harder to protect their kids online.

“This is a really positive step and will protect young social media users and make their experience on Instagram a more age appropriate one, which can only be a good thing.

“I think we were all disgusted last year by revelations from the Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen that young people on Instagram were being targeted with harmful content promoting anorexia among other things. It really highlighted how vulnerable young people are on social media.

“Regulating the age of social media users is crucial to keeping children safe online and ensuring they don’t see content that is not appropriate for them.

“I am calling on other social media platforms such as TikTok and Snapchat to also adopt age verification tools to ensure a safer experience for young people.

“I would also like to see this feature rolled out to all new sign-ups on social media apps and not just those with an account looking to edit their age. We have the technology and now it is time to start using it,” concluded Deputy Higgins.

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