Last week, Instagram announced that the platform will begin asking users for their birthdays when creating an account. This change could be of use to marketers hoping to implement age restrictions on content. 

Instagram’s stated reason for the policy is to “help prevent underage people from joining Instagram, help . . . keep young people safer and enable more age-appropriate experiences overall.” Exactly how Instagram plans to use this information is unclear. For now, the platform has said: “In the coming months, we will use the birthday information you share with us to create more tailored experiences, such as education around account controls and recommended privacy settings for young people.”

Depending on its implementation, the information could be particularly helpful to advertisers who only want to target content to people over a certain age.  For instance, the Distilled Spirits Council, the self-regulatory body for the beverage alcohol industry, specifically provides that advertising should be placed “only where 71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be of legal purchase age.” Currently, Instagram is able to restrict certain audiences by age only if users have a pre-existing Facebook account with their birthday connected. If implemented similarly, the new function could provide more accurate age-gating practices for those brands.