Many social media platforms require you to be a certain age when you sign up. They ask for your name, email, and also your exact birthday. If you’ve asked yourself why they’re doing that, there are a few reasons to take note of.
While it’s a pleasant surprise to wake up on your birthday and get lots of well-wishes on your news feed, at times sharing your personal information could expose you to online threats. We’ll go take a look at what happens when you use your real birthday when signing up for a social media account.
Social platforms like Instagram force you to add your birthday when you sign up. They claim that age verification is in place to protect teenagers from online creeps. While this is a viable reason, there are other reasons why social platforms want your birthday.
In many cases social platforms use your birthday for a variety of purposes. They show you personalized content, serve advertisements, and greet you for your birthday. They may also censor content that could be disturbing or offensive to your age group.
In instances when a person is 14-years-old, there may be tighter restrictions from advertisers as to what they can show them. Laws around advertising to children include things such as social media platforms not being allowed to show underage users advertisements containing alcohol.
These days, many teens lie about their age to access a social media platform. For underage kids, it’s easy to get access to a platform just by adding another few years on top of their birth age.
But this isn’t the only reason. For the security-conscious, lying about their age it’s a strategic decision to protect themselves from online scams.
What Can Scammers Do With Your Birthday?
Scammers have become more advanced over the years, and while providing your full birthday, month, and year to a social media platform seems like an innocent move, you could be opening yourself up to a variety of attacks.
If a scammer has your birthday as well as some other personal information, they can try and scam you, your friends, and your family by pretending to be you. They can also commit online fraud and get access to financial accounts.
In some cases, they can use your private information to open utility accounts, or get access to other parts of your life. In serious cases they might use your information to open bank accounts and steal your credit information.
Depending on your country’s format for identification documents, your birthday can also be part of your ID number.
If a social media platform is asking you to enter your exact birthday, and you don’t mind doing so, be cautious. If the reason why you would like to provide your birthday is because you want to get birthday wishes, then use the date but not the year. This will already put you in a safer place than providing your exact information.
We wouldn’t recommend lying about your age to get onto a platform you’re too young for, however. Or using a birth date to mislead a social media platform about whether you’re an adult or minor.
Be Conscious on Other Platforms Too
No matter what you are signing up to, you should always ask yourself if it is absolutely necessary to provide your exact information such as your birthday. For online banking and credit cards, you might have no choice, but for memberships and social media apps, you should think twice.
Sometimes the less you provide about yourself online, the better. Always make sure that the sites and services you are signing up for are as secure as possible.