WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook Inc, is raising its minimum age from 13 to 16 in Europe to help it comply with new data privacy rules coming into force next month. This might be a good news for parents but it is only applicable in European countries. One of the most important social media trends in 2018 is excessive use of WhatsApp and Facebook as a medium of communication. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger crossed their user base to more than 1.3 billion and 1.2 billion respectively.

Experts believe that 2018 is going to see a further rise in the growth rate of messaging platforms and their integration with social media marketing. Also, the combination of chatbots with messaging platforms is going to enhance the quality of service.

WhatsApp, founded in 2009, has come under pressure from some European governments in recent years because of its end-to-end encrypted messaging system and its plan to share more data with its parent. WhatsApp will ask European users to confirm they are at least 16 years old when they are prompted to agree new terms of service and a privacy policy provided by a new WhatsApp Ireland Ltd entity in the next few weeks. It is not clear how or if the age limit will be checked given the limited data requested and held by the service. Facebook, which has a separate data policy, is taking a different approach to teens aged between 13 and 15 in order to comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law. It is asking them to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information on the platform, otherwise they will not see a fully personalized version of the social media platform. By raising the minimum age limit from 13 to 16, the instant messaging service is not asking for new rights to collect personal information under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), according to the blog post.

“Our goal is simply to explain how we use and protect the limited information we have about you,” it said.

But WhatsApp, which had more than 1.5 billion users in January according to Facebook, said in a blog post it was not asking for any new rights to collect personal information in the agreement it has created for the European Union. It is not clear how the age limit will be checked given the limited data requested and held by the service.

Though, WhatsApp said it currently has no plans to share account information of users with Facebook, which does not mean it won’t do so in the future:

“We are not currently sharing account information to improve your product and ads experience on Facebook. As we have said in the past, we want to work closer with other Facebook companies in the future and we will keep you updated as we develop our plans.”

WhatsApp angered millions of users including privacy watchdogs almost two years ago when it announced that it would begin sharing data and user phone number with Facebook. Users could however, decide to opt out of this option if they choose to.

In line with Facebook, WhatsApp’s minimum age of use will remain 13 across the rest of the world. Facebook says it is using a different approach for data policy involving teens between 13 and 15.

How Will it going to be worked:

This new rule means now you must be required to confirm your age first before using it that is  you are at least 16 years old before you can be allowed to use the messaging app unless until it is restricted for Europeans to use the WhatsApp services. This will come into effect when users are asked to agree to WhatsApp’s new terms of service as provided by a new WhatsApp Ireland Ltd entity expected to come into effect in the next couple of weeks.

They also said that users of age limits form 13 to 15 must have their parents or guardian approval and permission to use the WhatsApp. Parents or guardian must agree to the terms and condition of WhatsApp on the behalf of them.

“In addition to being of the minimum required age to use our Services under applicable law, if you are not old enough to have authority to agree to our Terms in your country, your parent or guardian must agree to our Terms on your behalf.”


WhatsApp claim this feature will be available ‘in the coming weeks’ in an upcoming update. ‘This feature will be rolling out to all users around the world on the newest version of the app,’ it said.

This report will reveal all information that WhatsApp has stored on its servers and it will be available in three days after in is requested, WhatsApp claims.

The report will be available for a few weeks before it is wiped from the central server.


Ahsan Mahmood

Bahria University, Islamabad.


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