If you have teenagers, there’s a good chance you know what Instagram is. It’s one of the most popular social media apps among teens because it allows them to take and share pictures and videos with their friends in private or public groups where everyone can see each other’s updates. While its popularity with teens has been extremely helpful to Instagram since its launch in 2010, it also presented challenges to its safety standards after it became apparent that some users were using their accounts under false names to send explicit photos of themselves—and others—to their friends on the app. Instagram’s Age Verification Trial: What You Need to Know

How does it work?

To be part of Instagram’s age-verification trial, you will need a government-issued photo ID that shows your birth date and an official document like a driving license or utility bill showing your current address. When you attempt to log in, you’ll be asked for one of these pieces of identification, which will then be scanned by third parties as part of their verification process. You can also provide information about your school or university and if these match what Instagram already has on file, you won’t have to provide an additional form of ID. If all goes well, this could be available globally in just a few months’ time.

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Why did they launch this program?

Underage users are often more active on Instagram than on other platforms, Facebook VP of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert told Motherboard. That is both good and bad, but mostly bad.

Instagram Age Verification Trial: What You Need to Know
Instagram’s Age Verification Trial: What You Need to Know

We want to make sure we’re doing everything possible to keep young people safe. The app also has more accounts created by kids than any other social media platform, which makes it all that much more important that those kids are safe while using it. The company doesn’t just want to shut down age-inappropriate accounts, either; it wants to help parents who have children using Instagram understand how they can better protect them.

How could this affect bloggers, influencers, and brands?

While Instagram has promised to not reveal any sensitive information from these selfies, including your location, as a blogger or influencer it’s crucial that you know how exactly social media platforms verify age. Ultimately, it comes down to controlling who sees your content. If one of your posts isn’t age-appropriate and gets reported by a parent or other authority figure, you don’t want that image on your permanent record. So make sure you know where your audience is coming from—and stay within those boundaries!

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How could this affect your account?

There are two major consequences that could come from participating in Instagram’s age verification trial. If you fail to verify your account within 72 hours, your account will be locked and you won’t be able to post any new content. Additionally, if you happen to be under 18 but falsely claim that you are over 18, then it is likely that your account will be deleted. In both cases, losing access to your account can cause long-term problems with maintaining brand recognition or building followers; a lot of hard work could go down the drain if you end up getting locked out of Instagram as a result of a failed trial. So it is absolutely essential that you meet all requirements and verify on time.

Instagram Age Verification Trial: What You Need to Know
Instagram’s Age Verification Trial: What You Need to Know

How can you prepare for this change?

Whether you’re an influencer or a parent, there are a few things you can do now to prepare for these changes before they officially roll out. First, make sure your Instagram profile information is accurate and up-to-date. If you have any doubts about your birth date, double check with official documentation—you don’t want Facebook going off of faulty information. Next, if you’re running a business that relies on social media marketing, make sure all of your users follow these best practices. That way, they can ensure they’ll be able to continue using Instagram after May 1st regardless of their age.

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Will there be additional tools to help manage your account(s)?

Instagram announced that they are looking into a new feature that will require users who wish to post videos longer than 15 seconds on their profiles and/or stories must verify their account using an email address, phone number or using a tool called a text-based challenge. If you choose not to provide information for verification, your videos will be disabled. In fact, even if you choose to enter an email or phone number, it doesn’t mean you’ll be verified automatically. It is Instagram’s decision whether or not your profile will be verified and pass through for video functionality. If your profile is being used by someone under 18 years old but does not pass through verification, then your account will receive a warning from Instagram asking them to change their birthdate.

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