WhatsApp Messenger

WhatsApp Lowers Minimum Age to 13 in Europe, Drawing Criticism

Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, has adjusted the minimum age requirement for the messaging app in Europe, reducing it from 16 to 13 years old. This alteration, implemented across the European Union on Thursday, aligns with a similar change announced for users in the United Kingdom earlier in February.

The decision has raised concerns among children’s rights advocates, who argue that it could expose young users to various online risks. Smartphone Free Childhood, a UK-based campaign group, criticized WhatsApp’s move, emphasizing the prioritization of shareholder profits over children’s safety.

Vicky Ford, a member of the UK government committee on education, condemned the decision as “irresponsible,” emphasizing the lack of consultation with parents beforehand.

Responding to the backlash, a WhatsApp spokesperson highlighted the platform’s safety features, including options to control group additions and block/report unknown accounts.

While Meta has faced scrutiny over age-related policies in the past, the company recently announced efforts to protect young users from online threats such as sextortion and intimate image abuse. These features aim to prevent scammers from targeting teenagers, a prevalent issue on social media platforms.

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