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24th Apr 2018

WhatsApp to ban under 16s from using its service

The minimum age for users in Europe is increasing

Oli Dugmore

The minimum age for users in Europe is increasing

WhatsApp will raise its minimum age to 16 across Europe. In the coming weeks an app update will ask its European users to confirm they are 16 when prompted to accept new terms of service and an updated privacy policy.

Currently the minimum age for using the service is 13.

Call me naive, and 13-year-olds are largely stupid, but I don’t know a single young lad who when asked by the internet ‘Are you old enough to use this service?’ answers ‘No, please redirect me to the soft play area.’

How WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, will verify responses is unclear given it requests and retains very little data about its 1.5 billion users.

New data privacy rules being rolled out in the EU next month are forcing the change, but the messaging service has said in a blog post it will not be asking for any new rights to collect personal information in the agreement.

Facebook’s Messenger is taking a different approach, instead asking minors to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information on the platform. Facebook has a different data policy to WhatsApp.

The end-to-end encrypted messenger also announced it would also be allowing users to download all the information it holds about them, like the make and model of the device they use, their contacts and groups, and any blocked numbers.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook feudal lord, has recently admitted that up to 87 million people could be affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw user data privacy breached.

The majority of those 87 million are based in the United States but 1,079,031 UK users have had their data shared improperly, the tech company said.

And if you’re one of those people, you could be entitled to up to £12,500 of compensation.

In the wake of the scandal, WhatsApp’s founder joined the #deleteFacebook campaign.