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Whatsapp logo on a smartphone Alamy Stock Photo
age change

WhatsApp to lower minimum age requirement across Europe from 16 to 13

WhatsApp said the age requirement will be lowered across Europe and the UK to ‘ensure a consistent minimum age requirement globally’.

INSTANT MESSAGING SERVICE WhatsApp has lowered its minimum age requirement in Ireland from 16 to 13.

WhatsApp – like Facebook and Instagram – is owned by parent company Meta.

Previously, users in Europe and the UK had to be at least 16 to use the app, while the minimum age requirement elsewhere was 13.

In a statement today, WhatsApp said the minimum age requirement will be lowered across Europe and the UK in order to “ensure a consistent minimum age requirement for WhatsApp globally”.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp is also updating its Terms of Service and Privacy Policies in response to two new EU regulations, the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act.

The main goal of the Digital Services Act is to prevent illegal and harmful activities online and the spread of disinformation, while the Digital Markets Act aims to ensure that large online platforms behave in a fair way.

In response to this, WhatsApp said it is adding more information to its terms about what is or is not allowed on messaging service.

WhatsApp is also making changes to its international data transfer mechanisms and users in Europe will rely on the new EU-US Data Privacy Framework.

The aim of this framework is to provide “reliable mechanisms for personal data transfers” between the EU and US in a manner that is consistent with both EU and US law and ensures consistent data protection.

A WhatsApp spokesperson said the updates “do not change our commitment to user privacy and do not expand any data sharing when messaging other WhatsApp users”.

The spokesperson added: “Wherever you are in the world, we protect all personal messages with end-to-end encryption, which means no one, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to them.”

Representatives from social media companies, including Meta, attended a summit hosted by Education Minister Norma Foley yesterday.

One of her main aims from that summit was gaining a “commitment” from these representatives to support age verification measures.

It’s been warned that self-declaration of age is not an effective age verification technique and that other measures are needed.

Foley also expressed concern that children younger than 13 are accessing social media platforms.

Speaking after yesterday’s social media summit, Foley said she sought an “undertaking” that the social media representatives present “would facilitate age verification, whatever form that might take”.

However, she said that “wasn’t forthcoming at present, but they have undertaken to engage again on it”.

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