WhatsApp imposes new age limit of 16: will it actually work?
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WhatsApp is limiting its usage to people aged 16 or above in Europe. In compliance with new data privacy policies that will come into force next month, the service, owned by Facebook, will ask users to confirm their age before creating an account. For now, users must be at least 13 years old to sign in, and this rule will still apply to most online platforms such as Twitter and Snapchat. Due to new EU data privacy regulations, WhatsApp, which does not ask new users for their age at the moment, was forced to make age restrictions and adopt more transparent policies. There will also be, for instance, an option to download a file with the private data that this service holds, including contacts, groups or blocked numbers. This measure, contrary to the age restriction one, isn’t just limited to Europe. According to a recent study, WhatsApp is the most popular messenger app in the world, with over 1.5 billion monthly users, followed by Facebook Messenger and WeChat. Its unmeasurable power holds this platform accountable for safety issues as well as private data usage, especially when online platforms are being increasingly scrutinised due to the rise of under-age, supposedly illegal profiles. Just recently, Ofcom came up with a report showing that one third of all UK 12 to 15-year-olds are WhatsApp users, which goes against its current age limit of 13. To make matters worse, eight in ten parents are unaware of their children’s activity on social media. The lack of regulations has caused many concerns on whether and how these children’s information is protected.
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