WhatsApp has started kicking out some teenagers after the messaging platform, which is owned by Facebook, revised its minimum user age from 13 to 16 years.
The move is aimed at complying with a tough new data privacy law in Europe. Thirteen, which is the lower age threshold, remains in place for the rest of the world.
WhatsApp said it is updating its terms of service in the European Union before the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on May 25.
“We had to make a trade off between collecting more information or deciding to keep it simple and raise the minimum age of users to 16 across Europe,” WhatsApp said in a statement.
GDPR seeks to expand and update data rules that have been in place in Europe since 1995 – long before hacks, security breaches and data leaks became a common occurrence.
The rules give Europeans more control over their personal data.
Companies must obtain an individual’s consent in order to store and process personal data and won’t be allowed to hold data for longer than is necessary.
GDPR also requires companies handling the personal data of anyone under the age of 16 to receive consent from a parent or guardian.
They must make “reasonable efforts to verify” user ages, “taking into consideration available technology.”
WhatsApp said that it would ask European users to confirm they are at least 16 years old. It won’t ask for precise birth dates.
The company has said that providing false information violates its terms, and users can be banned as a result.